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Could a Huge Dustin Pedroia Extension Lead to Yankees-Robinson Cano Spat?

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Could a Huge Dustin Pedroia Extension Lead to Yankees-Robinson Cano Spat?

An All-Star second baseman playing in the AL East is reportedly ready to sign a contract extension with his team. 

So Robinson Cano and the New York Yankees signed up for a long-term business relationship, right?

Actually, it's the Boston Red Sox who could soon lock up their second baseman for multiple years. According to ESPN Boston's Joe McDonald, the Red Sox have opened talks with Dustin Pedroia regarding a contract extension. Pedroia is under contract through 2014 with a team option for 2015.

In light of this news, Cano and his agent, Scott Boras, might be wondering why the Yankees aren't showing them the same love. The Yanks' second baseman is a free agent after next season, as the team picked up his $15 million option for 2013. 

Later in his article, McDonald writes that Boston views Pedroia as a cornerstone of the team and face of the franchise—someone who can lead the Red Sox into the future.

Shouldn't the Yankees see Cano the same way, if they don't already? He'll never be seen as a face of the franchise while Derek Jeter is still in uniform. But it's pretty clear that Cano is the Yankees' best player—a cornerstone to build around.

Yet is he considered a leader on the team? Perhaps that will be one of the hang-ups between Cano and the Yankees as they try to negotiate a new deal.

Earlier this month, ESPN's Buster Olney wrote that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman intends to take a hard line in discussions over a contract extension.

Elsa/Getty Images
Will Dustin Pedroia's contract set the market for second basemen?

With eight seasons on his résumé and Cano turning 30 this year, Cashman apparently doesn't want to dole out huge cash for the latter half of his career and possibly get stuck with a high-paid player who can no longer perform to his previous standards, a la Alex Rodriguez.

But really, can the Yankees afford not to eventually cede to whatever Boras' demands are? They have to re-sign him. Jeter has two seasons left on his contract. Curtis Granderson is a free agent after next season. Will the Yanks be built around Mark Teixeira for the next four seasons and A-Rod for five more years? 

Cashman might try to take a hard-line stance, as he did with Jeter two years ago. The shortstop initially asked for a six-year, $150 million contract, upon which Cashman dared him to shop himself around baseball to find that offer. Eventually, the two sides agreed on a three-year, $51 million deal. 

Is Cashman ready for a similar battle with Cano? The difference here is that the second baseman figures to be in more demand around MLB if he's allowed to hit the open market. Cano would be 31 years old, and given the lack of quality players at his position, some team figures to meet his contract requirements. 

Cano's future deal is yet another reason the Red Sox want to address Pedroia's situation now, according to McDonald. As MLB Trade Rumors points out, Boston already has to contend with the five-year, $75 million extension Ian Kinsler signed with the Texas Rangers earlier this year. If Cano sets the market with a deal worth $200 million, that obviously drives Pedroia's price up.

Ultimately, however, what happens with Pedroia will likely have only an indirect effect on Cano's contract situation. Whatever the Red Sox and Pedroia agree to could set the bar at a certain level, and that would give Boras something to work from.

Bob Levey/Getty Images
Agent Scott Boras will likely take Robinson Cano to free agency.

But Boras' history indicates he probably already has a figure in mind, and what another team pays its second baseman will only play a minor factor. What matters is what Cano means to the Yankees, regardless of what position he plays, and Boras will attempt to put a dollar figure on that.

Boras' move isn't to advise his clients to sign a deal that preempts free agency. Cano surely knew that before he hired him to be his agent. But even if that wasn't Boras' typical approach, discussions will probably go into next winter anyway.

According to the New York Post's Joel Sherman, the Yankees have a general policy of waiting until a player hits free agency before negotiating a long-term contract. That's a curious philosophy, but maybe the intention is to let the market establish itself, rather than the Yankees setting it themselves.

Will principal owner Hal Steinbrenner's mandate to keep payroll below the $189 million luxury-tax threshold also influence the Yankees' willingness to open the vault for Cano? Not necessarily, but having to pay Cano might affect how the rest of the roster is assembled. 

We may already be seeing that, with reports that the Yankees want to fill their opening in right field by paying out cheaper, one-year contracts to older outfielders who will play a platoon role. That took them out of the market for Torii Hunter, will likely force Ichiro Suzuki to sign elsewhere and means they're not in the trade mix for Justin Upton. 

Under those circumstances, the Yankees may have no other choice than to pin franchise-player expectations on Cano. Of course, that means he'll have to be paid accordingly. 

 

Follow @iancass on Twitter.

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