Remember Jay Z’s joint "On To The Next One", when he says “I don’t get dropped, I drop the label”? Well Jay Z and Roc Nation Sports have let it be known that he’s not switching up the steelo that made him a music mogul and American icon for MLB or any of its giants.
Jay also told us on Kanye’s classic, "Diamonds Are Forever" remix, “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business-man. Let me handle my business man.”
At the end of the day, Robinson Cano and Jay Z weren’t interested in the Yankees hardball negotiating tactics. The Yankees offered $180 million. Roc Nation wanted $300 million. With the two sides so far apart, the Seattle Mariners swooped in and signed Cano to a whopping 10-year, $240 million deal.
Not too many people saw that one coming. It wasn’t the record-breaking contract Cano’s money team initially wanted, but it’s significantly more than the Yankees were offering and four years longer.
Cano kept with Jay Z’s blueprint of success and took the money. This signing has several gripping effects and lays the groundwork for a slew of future maneuvering. Jay Z has established his agency as a group who will demand exorbitant salaries for their clients, push them as media marketing monsters and won’t bow down to any entity, even the most powerful pro franchise in America. Instead of continuing to go back and forth with the Steinbrenner’s and GM Brian Cashman, Cano basically packed up his sh*t and left town on the Red Eye. His pockets are stacked and he’s cutting no slack. In Roc Nation’s eyes, Cano is a future icon, and he wants to get paid like that. With this unforeseen move, Jay Z used his music mogul mentality in his first major dealings as an agent. Message to MLB owners: Negotiating with Roc Nation is going to be survival of the fittest...or richest.
Seattle is one of the worst franchises in MLB and perennial losers. Since the late ‘90s-early 2000’s when Ken Griffey Jr. and A-Rod were battling the Yankees for AL supremacy, Seattle’s franchise has become a classic example of one that can’t get out of its own way. They have had two winning seasons in the last decade and after winning just 71 games last season, the true impact of Robbie Cano as an elite baseball player will be tested.
If people thought that 85-win Yankees team he played with this past season was tough to watch, wait until you get a whiff of his Mariners squad. Sure, they have a bunch of young talent and a world of potential. And maybe Cano is the experienced All-Star to bring it all together, but the AL is no cakewalk and usually the super-star laden team are the ones who win World Series titles. Seattle doesn’t have an abundance of elite ballers.
With all due respect to Seattle’s front office, this move can’t be about winning for Cano. Everybody knows he has the best chance to win with the Yankees, especially with the recent additions of speedster Jacoby Ellsbury and catcher Brian McCann.
Nobody goes to Seattle to win. It’s a jackpot destination, like the Texas Rangers were for A-Rod when he left a winning Mariners squad to take a record-breaking $275 million contract with Texas in 2001. A-Rod won an MVP and did his thing, but endured three miserable seasons of losing before bouncing to the Yankees and winning his first World Series in 2009. Cano was also on that squad.
Not having to pay Cano’s crazy asking price also sets the Yankees up with a mound of cash to pursue several top-quality players, including some much needed pitching help for workhorse CC Sabathia. Losing Mariano Rivera is no small setback either. Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips is rumored to be on the block and would fit this Yankees team. Phillips, who has four years and $50 million left on his $72.5 million, six-year contract he signed with the Reds, hit .261 with 18 homers and 103 RBIs in 2013. With Ellsbury, speed demon Brett Gardner and Phillips, the Yankees inability to manufacture runs would probably be a thing of the past.
While a Yankees off season splurge is common place, this was a major move by the small market Mariners. Outbidding the Yankees on any player is a bold accomplishment, one that Jigga man surely didn’t hesitate to rub in the Yankees' faces. Who knows what the future holds for Cano as far as winning games and his visibility as a ball player? His money team seems to think that his global impact will transcend any market. If Cano is the real deal Holyfield as Jay Z proclaims, then the Mariners expect him to deliver a Yankees payroll-sized jolt at the gates. That's why they overpaid to snatch Cano in the first place-- to pump some sex appeal into a decaying franchise. Seattle's attendance is among the lowest of any Northeast professional sports club.The team's attendance has plummeted from 3.51 million in 2001 to 1.76 million in 2013.
We know the second baseman can bang and flash the leather. The 31-year-old Cano, who has only ever played for the Yankees in his nine-year career, has a lifetime stat line of .309/.355/.504. He is a five time All-Star with five Silver Sluggers and two Gold Gloves. We’ve seen him have great success, but that was as one of many superstar members of the most well-known sports franchise in the world. Cano will be the main (only?) attraction in the city of rain, and even hiding out in Seattle won’t stop the media scrutiny he’ll receive. The media always follows the money.
What happens when he doesn’t hustle on an infield hit? Or when he doesn’t show any emotion following a six-game losing streak that has the Mariners slipping in the standings? Those are things that will inevitably happen and Seattle fans will have to deal with. He’ll also go through stretches where he hits .420 and tears the cover off the ball. Only time will tell if Roc Nation was right about him being baseball’s biggest fish, but that doesn’t matter to them because the check is already in the bank.