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Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Jay Z battles Boras, Bombers

By Andrew Marchand

Jeff Wilpon, Robinson Cano, and Jay Z
Jay Z took Jeff Wilpon and the Mets out to dinner -- likely to put pressure on the Yankees. But Robinson Cano is still very far from getting a $300 million-plus deal.
I'm not sure they serve reality potion at the 40/40 Club, but the Yankees have just sent a case over.

The Yankees won't meet with Robinson Cano's agent until Jay Z drops the demand of a $310 million contract. If the two sides are going to get together soon, they are going to do have to do so after Jay Z & Co. admit they were a bit rash.

"Until he gets a little more realistic, we have nothing to talk about," Yankees team president Randy Levine told ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews.

With those comments, Jay Z has the specter of Scott Boras looming larger over him. Jay Z entered the agent business talking big -- now he has to back it up.

Perhaps it will all work out for Jay Z and CAA, but at this point they appear desperate as the Yankees are standing strong. They scheduled a dinner with the Mets, a team with a $90 million payroll projection and a GM who doesn't want to spend $100 million, let alone three times that much.

It is all designed to make the Yankees move off their initial offer of $160-plus million. It is not working so far.

I do believe a market will develop for the 31-year-old Cano because he is the best player in free agency, so Jay Z may have the last laugh. But now, after the first quarter, it feels like Jay Z/Cano is down 25-15.

Jay Z has been successful in a number of fields. CAA's Brodie Van Wagenen is an accomplished agent, so maybe they have a run in them.

To win the negotiation, Cano's side must project correctly. If it waits it out -- Boras style -- it could get lucky because Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Shin-Soo Choo, Jacoby Ellsbury and several of the top free agents could eschew the Yankees. The Yankees, while still probably not going to $310 million, could be forced to fold.

But if the McCanns, Beltrans, etc., accept Hal Steinbrenner's money, then there are people in the Yankees' baseball operations department who are prepared to invest $180 million to $200 million -- money they are willing to spend on Cano -- elsewhere. In fact, they can make a pretty good argument that would be the smarter move.

Then Cano could be left without the money -- and the team -- he wants.

In the end, the Yankees do want Cano, but they want him to budge -- the sooner, the better. How do Jay Z & Co. do that and save face? It is not just about Cano's future; it is also about Jay Z's as a big-time sports agent.

Boras would be relishing the moment, having been there, done that. If Cano wanted $310 million, Boras' history shows he might've gotten it or close to it.

Jay Z/CAA is an unknown quantity. He has talked big, rapping, "Scott Boras, you over, baby. Robinson Cano, you coming with me."

He sure is.