What do you do when you’re a baseball team operating on a tight budget, which occasionally cries poverty despite playing in the biggest city in America? If you’re the New York Mets you have dinner at an expensive Manhattan restuarant with Jay-Z to talk about his client Robinson Cano, who is rumored to want a contact worth over $300 million.
That’s reportedly what Mets COO Jeff Wilpon and GM Sandy Alderson did Monday night via the New York Post’s Ken Davidoff.
Obviously this makes perfect sense. All throughout last week’s General Manager’s meetings in Orlando, Alderson claimed the Mets still don’t have a lot of money to spend on free agents, prompting zingers from mega-agent Scott Boras, among others. Boras represents two of the other top free agents in the market — Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo — each looking for deals in the $150 million range. Cano reportedly wants double that amount so of course, the Mets, who’ve seen their payroll shrink from $149 million in 2008 to $93 last season, will discuss the deal with Jay-Z for Cano.
From the Cano camp it actually does make some sense, sarcasm temporarily put aside. Other than the Yankees there doesn’t seem to be another team willing to bid for the star second baseman. The Bombers only want to offer him a seven-year deal worth $160-170 million. Why not try to sucker the Mets, if only for some leverage? If nothing else, establish a working relationship with the Mets.
Tuesday morning Yankees President Randy Levine reiterated that the team will not pay Cano his $300 million demands. From Newsday:
When asked whether he could envision the Mets prying Cano away from the Yankees, Levine laughed and said, “For 300 million, yes.”
As for the Mets? It’s almost impossible to see them signing off on a 10-year contract for a player who’d be 41 by the time it’s complete. Yes, going after the top player on the market, Cano, would be a signal of intent that the cost-cutting days are over at Citi Field. It would also be a way for the team to stick it to the Yankees. More than likely the Mets will again go cheap, trying to piece together the team and ownership can point to this meeting with Jay-Z that, hey, we’re trying to sign players but we’re being priced out.
Granted the Mets are the team that agreed to pay Bobby Bonilla over $1 million a year until all the polar ice caps melt (actually 2035) to buy out the final year of his contract, worth $5 million … so anything is possible.