Robinson Cano hires Jay-Z

Updated: April 3, 2013, 1:20 AM ET
By Buster Olney and Darren Rovell | ESPN.com

New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, in the final season of a $57 million contract, has left agent Scott Boras to sign with a company founded by Jay-Z.

[+] EnlargeRobinson Cano, Jay Z
Courtesy of Robinson CanoRobinson Cano's contract talks with the Yankees will go in the direction of Jay-Z, right, the player's new rep.

Roc Nation, an entertainment company founded by Shawn Carter, also known as Jay-Z, announced Tuesday that it is getting into the sports representation business through a partnership with Creative Artists Agency (CAA). This arm of CAA will be known as Roc Nation Sports, which simultaneously announced that its first sports client is Cano.

Cano, making $15 million this season, will be represented in baseball matters by CAA Sports' Brodie Van Wagenen.

"At this point in my career, I am ready to take a more active role in my endeavors on and off the field," Cano said in a statement. "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."

Van Wagenen told ESPNNewYork.com that he will lead the baseball talks with the Yankees in hopes of getting Cano a new deal. Jay-Z will be involved but not in direct talks with Yankees ownership.

"Is it possible for him to sign with the Yankees? Of course, it is possible," Van Wagenen said. "He doesn't become a free agent until November. There is a lot of time between now and then where all sorts of variables could impact whether or not he ultimately re-signs with the Yankees or becomes a free agent."

The Yankees and Boras hadn't spoken in weeks about a new deal, a person with knowledge of the talks told ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand.

The Yankees had made what general manager Brian Cashman termed "a significant offer" during the spring, but Cano had not accepted it. At this point, the Yankees do not have a read on how the move from Boras to Jay-Z will impact future negotiations.

However, when Boras clients get this close to free agency, they typically play out their contracts and test the market.

"I have not spoken to Robinson, and I hope to," Boras told ESPN's T.J. Quinn on Tuesday.

Boras said any perception that he only takes players to free agency is wrong. In the last eight years, he said his agency has signed 16 players to contracts before entering free agency.

"We do what the client wants us to do," Boras said.

As of late Tuesday night, Boras still had not heard from Cano. A player who signs a contract with an agent owes the agent fees for the ensuing 12 months. Boras has been working for Cano for the previous two years.

Asked if he was still Cano's agent, Boras said, "I don't want to comment, other than to say I haven't spoken to him."

It is customary for players to sign representation agreements prior to or during spring training. Boras told ESPNNewYork.com that Cano signed his player-agent agreement on March 20th. At that time, Cano expressed no dissatisfaction with the progress or nature of the negotiations with the Yankees

It's not as if the team that will be negotiating for Cano after Boras is inexperienced, such as the much-hyped partnership between Ricky Williams and rapper Master P's No Limit Sports, which resulted in one of the worst contracts in sports history.

Through Roc Nation Sports, Cano also will be represented by CAA Sports' baseball group, which says it has negotiated $1.1 billion worth of deals, including four contracts (Ryan Braun, Matt Cain, Ryan Zimmerman, Buster Posey) that exceeded $100 million in the past two years alone. CAA also represents soccer superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham.

"We are open to exploring the interests of our player," Van Wagenen said. "If the player is open to doing that, then generally speaking, we are open to doing that. I don't think we were hired necessarily for what our practice is. More importantly, we were hired for what Robinson thinks we can do for him, both on and off the field."

Sources say Jay-Z himself is planning to be a certified agent, first in baseball and eventually in basketball and football. In order to represent clients in basketball, he would have to give up his small share of the Brooklyn Nets.

Jay-Z has always had a love for sports, but his passion grew through the Nets ownership and his 40/40 high-end sports bar in New York, which over the past nine years has become a hangout for athletes.

The initial launch is with CAA, but Roc Nation Sports will be its own company. Roc Nation, founded in 2009, represents musicians Rihanna, Shakira and Timbaland, among others.

"Because of my love of sports, it was a natural progression to form a company where we can help top athletes in various sports the same way we have been helping artists in the music industry for years," Jay-Z said in a statement.

ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand, ESPN's T.J. Quinn and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Buster Olney | email

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine

Darren Rovell | email

ESPN.com Sports Business reporter

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