Will Robinson Cano be in an Empire State of Mind when negotiating his next contract?
The soon-to-be free agent will now be co-represented by Roc Nation Sports, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter’s full-service sports management company, and CAA Sports. The formation of Roc Nation Sports -- and the signing of Cano as a client -- was officially announced Tuesday morning.
Cano was formerly represented by Scott Boras.
“At this point in my career, I am ready to take a more active role in my endeavors both on and off the field,” Cano said in a press release. “I am confident that the pairing of Roc Nation Sports and CAA Sports will be essential in helping me accomplish my short- and long-term goals. I am making this important decision now so I can keep my focus on helping the Yankees succeed in 2013, while minimizing any distractions for me and my teammates.”
The slugging second baseman is eligible for free agency after the 2013 season. Yankees GM Brian Cashman said in early March that the team made Cano a “significant offer, ” but Cano’s association with Boras was seen as a negative indicator that he would re-sign before hitting the free agent market. Boras is legendary for taking his clients to free agency, and normally obtaining large deals for his more high-profile players.
But with Cano leaving Boras, there is increased optimism among outside observers that the Yankees can complete an extension with Cano before he’s able to test the market. Several major stars have signed contract extensions in recent days -- headlined by Justin Verlander, Buster Posey and Elvis Andrus -- and many of CAA's clients -- including Posey -- have opted to ink extensions rather than go through the free agent process.
The 30-year-old has been a consistent American League MVP candidate, finishing fourth in voting last season after hitting .313 with a career-high 33 home runs and 94 RBIs. He has a career .308 average and 177 home runs while playing Gold Glove defense at second base.
He tied for 10th in the majors in home runs in 2012 with Adam LaRoche and Chris Davis and outpaced all second basemen. He was tied for 10th in batting average with Prince Fielder, Billy Butler and Torii Hunter. But advanced stats paint an even more valuable picture of Cano, who ranked second in Wins Above Replacement to Angels rookie Mike Trout in 2012.
Prior to the start of the 2013 season, Cano led the Dominican Republic to the World Baseball Classic title and was named MVP of the tournament, hitting .469 with two home runs. The D.R. was undefeated during its run.
“Robinson Cano is an extraordinary all-around talent who has established himself as one of the game’s best and most consistent players," his new lead agent at CAA, Brodie Van Wagenen said in a statement. "Our mandate is to minimize his distractions while helping him achieve his goals on and off the field in both the short and the long term. His immediate concern is continuing to show respect for the Yankees organization, his teammates and the fans.”
Cano is earning $15 million in the final season of a 6-year, $59 million extension he signed in February 2008. He is already the second-highest paid second baseman in the majors, behind the Phillies' Chase Utley at $15.285 million, but will likely still earn a raise in his next deal.
Two other Yankees infielders – Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez – also have left Boras in recent years, though they left the super agent after signing mega-deals with the Yankees.
Rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z is no newcomer to the sports world, being a part-owner of the Brooklyn Nets. He performed his hit "Empire State of the Mind" before Game 2 of the 2009 World Series, which the Yankees won. He's frequently spotted with Rodriguez -- who is close with Cano -- and rode on A-Rod's float during the Yankees' World Series parade in 2009.