Robinson Cano free agency: Mariners break off talks after Jay Z's demands escalate

It still feels weird to type, but yes, this is a thing that happened in baseball.

Update: The Mariners and Robinson Cano have worked out a 10-year, $240 million contract, despite the earlier reports that talks had broken off. It appears as if a night to sleep on it worked well for both sides.


The Mariners submitted a nine-year, $225 million offer to free agent second baseman Robinson Cano, but that apparently wasn't enough for his agent, Jay Z. According to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, Jay Z tried to get the Mariners to up their offer to a decade-spanning deal worth $252 million, and the Mariners balked and ended the meeting, effectively breaking off negotiations between the two sides.

Feinsand's sources tell him that Mariners president Howard Lincoln "exploded" when Jay Z asked for more money, and it's easy to see why: both of the Mariners offers -- eight years for $200 million and nine for $225 million -- trumped the best offer Cano has seen elsewhere by a considerable amount. The Yankees have been steadfast in their refusal to budge from below $200 million, with Feinsand reporting that they are willing to go as high as $175 million: one wonders how true that will remain if Cano lacks another suitor to push them to that threshold.

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Negotiations break down all the time, but it's worth noting that Cano switched from the best agent in professional sports, Scott Boras, to Jay Z and his fledgling agency, Roc Nation, earlier in 2013. Unless the only reason they were in Seattle was to force the Yankees to drive up their price -- which, and this is key, did not happen -- then Jay Z essentially cost Cano $50 million or more unless the Mariners are willing to patch things up. That's $50 million without getting into the lack of income tax in Washington, or the cost of living difference between Seattle and New York City, and so on.

So, it's unclear what happens next: Cano either goes back to the Yankees and starts to have a serious discussion about what he can realistically get from them, he calls the Mariners apologetically and asks about the $225 million once more, or they try to find someone else with the right balance of deep pockets and desperation to give them an offer. If the Mariners are truly done with Cano, it's likely safe to assume they'll move on to someone like Shin-Soo Choo, who will likely cost $100 million or so less over the life of a deal, and, just for the sake of bringing it full circle, is represented by none other than Scott Boras.

Hell, Boras is probably on the phone with the Mariners right now, in the hopes of completely stealing Seattle out from under Cano and his camp to keep them from even using it as a negotiating tactic.

It's worth pointing out that CBS Sports' Jon Heyman used language that was nowhere near as strong as what Feinsand's sources gave him, citing this as a "hiccup" in negotiations. Given how quickly things tend to move once they're in motion at this level of free agency, we'll likely know soon.

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