The Mariners have made it known to free agent Robinson Cano—the longtime Yankees second baseman—that they are willing to offer him a contract for 10 years and upward of $230 to $240 million, according to a report by Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes.
That overall number is in the ballpark with the figure that Cano's camp recently indicated was the new asking price—about $250 to $260 million but over nine years—after it initially started out at $300 million-plus.
The Yankees, meanwhile, have remained steadfast in offering no more than $170 million over seven years, per Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. They likely believed that Cano would be hard-pressed to find a significantly better offer on the market.
Well, apparently, he's got one now.
Still, there is a question at this stage of whether the Mariners are willing to go north of $200 million, or if the $240 million came as a figure floated by Cano's side, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports:
For now, let's play along as if Seattle might at least be considering $240 million over 10 years. That might not be the case, but what is evident is that the Mariners are to be taken seriously in their chase for the five-time All-Star and perennial MVP candidate.
Otherwise, why did he hop on a plane to fly across the country to meet with them?
If we're being fair, the difference here really is in the number of years, as the Yankees' reported offer is around $24 million per, which is what the Mariners' proposal comes out to as well. But tack on three more years at $24 million each, and there's your $72 million difference.
Even if it's less than that, it might be enough to make Cano ponder this question:
Is he willing to leave the only organization he's ever known—one of the winningest in baseball over the past two decades—and the spotlight of New York for Seattle, which sports some fine young talent that is ready to contribute now but also last made the postseason in 2001 and has finished in last or second to last in the AL West nine out of the past 10 years?
The Yankees, in case you're wondering, seem to think Cano may be on his way elsewhere, as Hoch indicated:
If Cano does head to Seattle—or even some other destination that is TBD at the moment—what would that mean for the Yankees, who want to keep him around as the centerpiece of an offense that now includes recent additions Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann?
Even with those two big-money deals already done, the Yankees have been acting as if they have the space in their payroll budget to sign another big name (or two) and still stay under the $189 million luxury-tax threshold.
That's all well and good, but if Cano is not the recipient of the remaining cash, then who might be?
All fall, word has been that New York would go big after Japanese star right-hander Masahiro Tanaka. Except that spot may be blown up, too. The latest, from The Japan Times, is that Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball have come to an agreement on the new procedure for the posting process of Japanese players.
While the details are being worked out, the biggest change would be a hard cap of $20 million on the amount that teams can bid for the rights to negotiate with the player. From there, if more than one team bids the maximum—which would happen with Tanaka, a 25-year-old who's considered a potential No. 2 starter by MLB standards—the player would be free to negotiate and sign with any team he chooses.
That's another big blow to the Yankees, who under the previous posting system, could have bid any amount they wanted—perhaps upward of $70 million—for the exclusive rights to talk to Tanaka.
Beyond that, though, there's also the possibility that Tanaka's team, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, won't even post him now that they are in line to receive only $20 million, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.
With Cano on a plane to Seattle and Tanaka perhaps not getting on one to come to America this year, that could mean the Yankees won't be able to land the two players who were at the very top of the free-agent board when the offseason began.
That, folks, would be an unfortunate turn of events for New York.
Of course, it could also be somewhat of a blessing in disguise. At least in the case of Cano, when you consider the cost in years and dollars to retain him is going to be the kind of contract that will turn regrettable long before it's anywhere near over.
There's also the fact that losing out on him wouldn't be such a bad thing because the Yankees' biggest need, now that they've inked Ellsbury and McCann, is starting pitching.
At the moment, New York's five-man rotation is made up of two men—CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova—and a bunch of question marks.
The good news is that a number of starters are still available, both on the open market (Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana, Matt Garza and Hiroki Kuroda, who reportedly has an offer of about $15 million for 2014 from the Yankees, per Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York) and on the trade front (David Price, Jeff Samardzija, Yovani Gallardo and Brett Anderson, to name a few).
And in the event that Cano bolts, the Yankees likely would turn their attention to free agents like Omar Infante and Mark Ellis to team with newly signed Kelly Johnson to cover second base.
For the Yankees, it would appear to be a huge blow if both Cano and Tanaka are out of the picture, at least initially—especially since the team's plans at the outset of the offseason prioritized re-signing the former and obtaining the latter.
But there are reasons to believe that missing out on Cano wouldn't be such a bad thing, and it might not leave the Yankees at a dead end with nowhere to turn.
If the Yankees' spot is in fact blown up, they still have time to pick up the pieces.