Hal Steinbrenner says Yankees have talked to Robinson Cano about 'significant' contract

Robinson Cano throws the ball during fielding practice

Robinson Cano throws the ball during fielding practice at spring training. (Feb. 18, 2013) (Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.)

TAMPA, Fla. -- Hal Steinbrenner disclosed Tuesday that the Yankees have talked to Robinson Cano about a "significant" contract to keep him in the Bronx, but did not elaborate on any specifics.

The managing general partner's comments provided some clarity after he told reporters two weeks ago a "conversation or two" had occurred in relation to extending the second baseman's contract.

What wasn't clear then was if those conversations had taken place simply within the organization or with Cano's agent, Scott Boras.

Steinbrenner said Tuesday the conversations were with Boras.

"We expressed to Scott how much we liked Robbie and what a great Yankee he's been and we hope he continues his career here for a long time to come," Steinbrenner said. "We just indicated to him, on a very preliminary basis, that we were willing to consider a significant long-term contract, and left it at that. There's nothing really to report since then."

Reached by phone, general manager Brian Cashman declined to expand on Steinbrenner's remarks, preferring the owner's comments to stand on their own, and Boras did not return a call seeking comment.

Steinbrenner stopped in the stadium tunnel Tuesday after a meeting in Joe Girardi's office that lasted nearly an hour.

"Just stopped to say hello," Cashman said of Steinbrenner's presence at the meeting.

In characterizing the discussions with Boras, Steinbrenner said they were "very broad."

"The main purpose of the conversation was just to let him know we want Robbie to continue to be a Yankee and we appreciate all his contributions," Steinbrenner said.

Putting a number value, both in years and dollars, on those contributions, of course, will be the tricky part.

Cano, whose 2013 salary is $15 million, said Monday the thought of finishing his career with the Yankees appealed to him, but on the surface, there would seem to be little incentive for the 30-year-old not to at least test the free-agent market after the season. Most Boras clients do, and Cano himself said of the agent and why he signed with him two years ago: "You always want to go with the best."

Boras has secured some of the biggest contracts in the game for his clients, with Alex Rodriguez, no longer a client, leading the pack.

That 10-year, $275-million deal signed in December 2007 hovers over everything the Yankees do -- and don't do -- as their stated goal for more than a year has been to get payroll to $189 million by 2014.

The widespread belief is Boras will be looking to get an eight- to 10-year deal for Cano, and whether Steinbrenner has something that "significant" in mind is the question that is a ways from being answered.

As for the elephant in the room this spring -- Rodriguez again being tied to performance-enhancing drugs -- Steinbrenner said he had nothing to add to what he has said previously.

"We don't know any more than you guys do," said Steinbrenner, who used the word "concern" in answering a form of the same question two weeks ago. "This is a pretty confidential investigation, and if we're asked to help MLB in any way, we will."

Though Steinbrenner is willing to make an exception for Cano to his fairly ironclad policy of letting contracts expire, his manager is another matter.

Joe Girardi is entering the final season of a three-year, $9-million contract.

"You know me, I focus on '13, I focus on this year," Steinbrenner said. "The contract's up at the end of this year, not right now."

Two weeks ago, Steinbrenner said he thought the team's much-discussed age would be more of a help than a hindrance this season, and he reiterated that Tuesday.

"There's been a lot of talk about our age," he said. "I like having those veterans. I like the age, I like the experience, and I think it's great for the young players to have that around."

Injuries, of course, can throw a wrench into any team's plans, young or old.

"We're just going to have to keep our fingers crossed that we don't get any strange injuries like last year to Andy [Pettitte] or Mo ," Steinbrenner said. "That's half the battle."

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