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Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Did Cano kill his own market?

By Wallace Matthews

NEW YORK -- As Brian Cashman said on Monday, the music hasn't even started yet in the anticipated GM's dance to seduce Robinson Cano, the cream of this year's free-agent crop.

But if a story in today's New York Daily News is to be believed, Cano may find no one else to dance with but the Yankees.

Yes, it sounds preposterous that a career .309 hitter who has averaged 28 home runs and 103 RBIs over each of his past five seasons, a five-time All-Star with two Gold Gloves at second base, a guy who hit .314/27/107 with an .899 OPS in 2013 with zero protection in his lineup and just turned 31 last month, would draw no interest from the rest of baseball, and it probably is.

But it reminds me of a conversation I had with a baseball insider late in the season in which the insider, who knows a thing or two about negotiating contracts, expressed the opinion that Cano's representatives had poisoned his well by allowing the news to leak out that Cano was seeking a 10-year deal in the neighborhood of $300 million. (For the record, the source of that alleged demand has never been made public. The Yankees swear it did not come from them, but they can't be too upset that it got out there.)

In any event, the baseball insider spent a considerable amount of time berating Cano's new representation, an amalgam of Jay-Z's Roc Nation Sports, and baseball agent Brodie Van Wagenen of CAA, arguing that allowing a number of that size to become public essentially scared off any suitors Cano might have had. "That's the last thing you do in any negotiation is let everyone know what you're looking for," the insider said. "You let them come to you first."

Van Wagenen did not immediately return a request for comment, but another source said he doubted the 10-year, $300 million "demand" had all that much effect on Cano's marketability. "I think people in this business are pretty sophisticated," he said. "I think they saw that for what it was, an opening salvo to begin the negotiations. Hey, if you don't ask, you don't get."

Another source with knowledge of the limited talks between Cano and the Yankees said he believed the Yankees' offer was for between six and seven years and in the neighborhood of between $144 million and $160 million. "My understanding is the Yankees might be willing to go one year longer, or one year less," he said, with appropriate adjustments to the money; more dough for fewer years and vice versa.

"Nobody knows what the real market for this guy is just yet," the source said. "I think everyone's just guessing at this point. And who knows? Some team out there could get desperate and give him what he wants."