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Brian Cashman says he would have done same thing if he was Cano

Yankees GM Brian Cashman holds a press conference

Yankees GM Brian Cashman holds a press conference at Yankee Stadium. (Oct 1, 2013) Credit: Bruce Gilbert

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Brian Cashman doesn't begrudge Robinson Cano for chasing nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to the Pacific Northwest.

In fact, the Yankees general manager said he has much in common with the second baseman in that respect.

"He had 240 million reasons why he could go to Seattle and if I was him, I would have done the same thing," Cashman said Tuesday at baseball's winter meetings.

The Yankees' last and best offer to the All-Star, far and away the club's best player, was $175 million over seven years.

"We did everything we could to try and bring him back," team president Randy 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."

Making his first public comments since Cano bolted, manager Joe Girardi said he wasn't taken completely by surprise.

"It's a wonderful deal for Robbie," Girardi said. "I think anytime there's someone of that talent, there's a chance that you're going to get a really long deal."

The kind, when it comes to the 10-year variety, the Yankees have said they're no longer doing. Not after seeing the one they bestowed on Alex Rodriguez blow up in their face.

"I think Hal [Steinbrenner] made it very clear: We're not doing 10-year deals," Levine said. "We found in our experience they just don't work. I think the industry has found they don't work. They may work for Robinson Cano -- he's a great player -- but for us we found they didn't work."

A report last week stated one factor in Cano heading to the Pacific Northwest -- something that quite likely could have been prevented by a $250-million offer from the Yankees -- was the second baseman being upset with Girardi for batting him second much of last season.

Because of the injuries that plagued the Yankees, Girardi tried a variety of unconventional lineups.

"There were discussions with a number of my hitters about, you know, I'm going to have to ask you to do a number of things you're not used to doing," Girardi said. "I talked to Robbie and told him, when I can get you back to third, I'll get you back to third but right now I think you hitting second gives us the best chance to win. It wasn't ideal, but it wasn't ideal all the injuries we had."

Girardi didn't outright deny that Cano was displeased.

"He didn't tell me he was unhappy, but there were things that I heard," Girardi said. "And I sat down and talked to him and he was like, OK, whatever you need."

Regardless, Cano's departure leaves a gaping hole, both in the field and at the plate. Cashman has been busy so far this winter, improving the club's prospects on offense at catcher by signing Brian McCann and in the outfield by signing Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran (the latter's deal isn't yet official).

And he's not close to done.

"I'm trying to get our offense back to where it was, or where we're used to having it, a top two or three offense in the game," Cashman said. "We need more work there. We need to keep going."

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