Roughly six months ago, it would have cost the Yankees in excess of $300 million over 10 years to sign Robinson Cano and avoid free agency, but that apparently no longer is the case.
A source familiar with the negotiations said Saturday that the second baseman's camp is not holding a hard line on that number during his negotiations.
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On Thursday, Cano told the Dominican newspaper El Dia that he never asked the Yankees or anyone else for $300 million. Technically, that's true. Personally, he hasn't. But multiple sources have confirmed that Cano's representatives -- a team effort between Jay Z's fledgling Roc Nation Sports and CAA's Brodie Van Wagenen -- did indeed request up to $310 million in May to buy out his pending free agency.
Back then, the dynamics involved with a potential Cano deal were much different. Jay Z's new agency had just lured Cano away from Scott Boras, who already had received a preliminary offer from the Yankees, and Cano still was five months from testing the open market.
But now it's a different game, and the public perception that Cano is focused on becoming the sport's first $300-million player could be scaring off potential buyers with the winter meetings set to begin Dec. 9 in Orlando.
At this point, with the market slow to develop for Cano, the Yankees have looked like the favorite to retain him, especially after the two sides stepped up negotiations right before Thanksgiving.
Team president Randy Levine and general manager Brian Cashman met with Cano's reps in midtown Manhattan last Monday and followed up with a phone conversation Tuesday before agreeing to table further discussions until this coming week.
Despite those talks, a source told Newsday that more than a $100-million gap remained in the valuations of Cano, who felt compelled to speak out Thursday about the $300-million price tag that has been affixed to him.
"No one has heard that from my mouth and never will,'' Cano told El Dia (via Google Translate).
Even so, it seems his asking price -- whether it's delivered by him or his agents -- might need to come down significantly to get a deal done. During the early stages of the post-Boras negotiations in midsummer, a source said the Yankees made an opening pitch in the range of the eight-year, $138-million contract the Mets gave to David Wright. The offer increased to $145 million (six years) and $165 million (seven) before the two sides agreed that Cano would test free agency at season's end.
The Yankees repeatedly have stated publicly that they have no intention of going to $300 million for Cano or waiting very long for him to lower his price. In the meantime, Cano's reps, including Jay Z, have huddled with Mets officials in a meeting that Sandy Alderson has since shrugged off as little more than a pleasant dinner.
Cano figures to be well beyond the Mets' budget at whatever number he ultimately settles on, and it doesn't seem as though he's very close to deciding what that number will be. But one thing is becoming clearer: It's not going to be $300 million.
Both sides evidently can agree on that now. What that means for the Yankees and Cano remains to be seen.