SEATTLE - Robinson Cano had spent his entire nine-year career with the Yankees. The 31-year-old had blossomed into a five-time All-Star, a five-time Silver Slugger recipient and a two-time Gold Glove winner as a Yankee.
But when it came time to sign a free-agent contract this offseason, Cano said he didn't feel as if the Yankees wanted to retain him.
"I didn't get any respect from them and I didn't see any effort; it was just like, 'You know what, it's this and that and that's it,' '' Cano, who wound up signing a 10-year, $240-million deal with the Mariners, said at a news conference at Safeco Field Thursday. "We never get to the point that we get that close commitment about anything.''
Cano declined to comment on the specifics of the negotiations with the Yankees, stating his desire to keep a good relationship with the organization. He did say he was surprised he left New York and is disappointed with the way things played out with his former team.
The Mariners unveiled their new second baseman six days after he agreed on a contract with them. It is the fifth contract over $200 million in major-league history. Alex Rodriguez is the only player to have signed for more guaranteed money.
The Yankees, who offered Cano a seven-year, $175-million contract, declined to respond to Cano's comments and referred to a statement made earlier in the week by team president Randy Levine.
"We did everything we could to try and bring him back,'' Levine said Tuesday morning at the Stadium after a news conference publicizing the Pinstripe Bowl. "That's a lot of money [from Seattle]. That's a really rich package. He did a lot better. We wish him the best, but . . . we tried. If $175 million isn't trying hard, I don't know what is.''
Cano is a career .309 hitter, and his .504 slugging percentage ranks second in major-league history for a second baseman. His wins above replacement for the last five years, 34.2, is tops in the majors.
Brodie Van Wagenen, Cano's agent with CAA Sports, said it was clear that they would reach free agency by October. Cano's representation, which also includes Jay Z's Roc Nation Sports, was actively engaged with nine or 10 teams after the GM meetings in November.
"It was at that point that I think the mutual interest was sincere enough on both sides that I definitely wanted to reassure Jack [Zduriencik, Seattle's general manager] and the Mariners that this was an opportunity that Robinson would consider and that we needed to explore it properly,'' Van Wagenen said.
Despite offering large contracts to Josh Hamilton and Prince Fielder in the previous few years, the Mariners had been unable to lure free agents to Seattle, partially because of its relatively isolated location. Justin Upton used his no-trade clause to block a deal that would have made him a Mariner last offseason.
Seattle was an ideal destination for Cano, though, Van Wagenen said. The Mariners are the only major-league team in the Pacific Northwest and present a larger region in terms of marketability.
"I think that was actually intriguing to Robinson and to his family, that he had the opportunity to be something not just to a city but to a region of the country,'' Van Wagenen said.
Cano also was drawn to the family atmosphere he felt from the organization. Seattle ace Felix Hernandez made a recruiting call to Cano and told him the team would take care of him and treat him like family. The discussion with Hernandez played a big part in his decision, Cano said.
"They showed me love, they showed me they wanted me from day one,'' he said. "Like I said, you always want to be with people that show you love, people that want you and people that are going to make you feel like a family.''