David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991.
Jay-Z, as a rapper-turned-entertainment-mogul, may be new to this whole agent business, and still have a few things to learn about how things are done in baseball. But it would be foolish to doubt his negotiating skills.
With a net worth of $450 million, and Beyonce as his better half, the Brooklyn-born artist formerly known as Shawn Carter obviously is doing something right. Look what he accomplished in a span of 48 hours with Robinson Cano.
Speaking at his locker before Wednesday's game, Cano revealed that he chose to switch from superagent Scott Boras to Jay-Z not long before Tuesday morning's shocking announcement. "It happened over the weekend," Cano said.
In other words, about 10 days since Cano already had re-upped with Boras, a commitment that was supposed to last him through what promises to be a very, very profitable year for the Yankees' second baseman. If Jay-Z was trying to make a huge splash for his new venture, Roc Nation Sports, and its partnership with baseball-oriented CAA, consider the rest of the agent landscape soaking wet.
Boras has been dumped in the past, most notably by Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, but that was after securing megadeals for both of $275 million and $180 million, respectively. Getting tossed by Cano, however, only months away from a potential $300-million payday was a stunning development.
While that can happen in such a cutthroat business, it doesn't to Boras. And on top of that, to lose out to someone like Jay-Z, a newcomer to baseball, must have been impossible for Boras to make any sense of. Boras had to hear it for himself, which is why he immediately flew to New York thinking that he could arrange a sitdown with his rogue client.
But Cano would have none it, not even returning Boras' phone calls, a first for the longtime agent. At the very least, Boras figured Cano would give him a face-to-face explanation, and maybe allow him to help sort through the decision-making process. As of Wednesday night, Cano had ignored his former agent. "Robinson has been great to us," Boras said Wednesday in a phone interview. "There were never any issues."
Cano was as frosty as the 43-degree temperature outside in addressing the situation. When asked if he had any plans to talk with Boras at some point, he replied, "No answer on that one, how's that?"
If an agent of Boras' stature, and earning ability, can be jettisoned so quickly at such a critical time after the intervention by Jay-Z, the rest of the industry -- aside from Roc Nation partner CAA -- should be shivering in their Hugo Boss suits. Is the promise of cross-branding as important to Cano as Tuesday's news releases made it sound? Or is this more about gaining entry into Jay-Z's world -- a life that, even for an A-list athlete, can feel like an upgrade.
When Jay-Z was mentioned in Wednesday's conversation, Cano perked up. As for what he liked about his new business partner, Cano cooed, "Everything."
Other than his pending free agency, which will be extremely lucrative for the Jay-Z and CAA group, Cano doesn't seem to be the ideal candidate to launch this type of groundbreaking operation. While his numbers certainly have Cano on a Hall of Fame track, he doesn't yet project the charisma of an A-Rod or Derek Jeter, the type of stardom that transcends the game.
His dad, Jose, told everyone this spring he wanted Robby to be a "Yankee forever." Maybe his parents believe that joining forces with Jay-Z is the best way to make that come true. Cano didn't say that Wednesday. But he did say he wished Jay-Z could teach him how to rap.