According to sources, the Yankees believe the Mariners are willing to make a competitive bid on Robinson Cano, which could reach $200 million over eight years. Mariners general manager Jack Zduiencik says "there's not a free agent we haven't talked to. We've cast a wide net." One source believes the Mariners could be desperate enough for hitting and to increase attendance that they would be willing to jump into the stalled Cano market.
Now, if the Mariners are indeed prepared to go higher than the Yankees, many believe it's a matter of whether or not Cano wants to be a Yankee or just wants the money. New York has no plans to go eight years or reach $200 million with Cano, so they'll either have to meet in the middle between their seven-year, $175 million deal and Cano's nine-year, $252 million contract with a tenth-year vesting option, or say goodbye to their star second baseman.
The contract the Yankees have pitched will already give him the second highest AAV in team history, second only to Alex Rodriguez. A source says "(The Yankees) think this offer is incredibly fair, it's the highest average annual salary they've paid anyone except for Alex Rodriguez. Not even (Derek) Jeter got that kind of money.'' Still, the Yankees proved during negotiations that they don't see Cano as an attraction that will bring fans to the game:
Instead, the Yankees presented an analysis of Cano's value that determined he was worth approximately $25 million per season.
According to the source, Cano's side presented its client as not only "the best player on the board,'' but also as the best player in baseball and someone who is "indispensable'' to the Yankees.
The Yankees disagreed with that statement and cited diminished attendance and TV ratings in 2013 in the absence of Rodriguez and Jeter, both of whom missed much of the season due to injuries, as evidence that Cano lacks the star power to attract ticket buyers.
"We don't see Robbie Cano as the best player in the game,'' one of participants at the meeting is reported to have said. "We see him as one of the best.''
If the Mariners are really interested in Robinson Cano and are willing to go where the Yankees have seemingly not been willing to go, where does he sign? If the Yankees don't think he brings in fans, why are they willing to give him such a high AAV for a player they don't seem to value? If they truly feel he's not worth the money, then any bidding war is unlikely to involve them.
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