Robinson Cano has known Jay-Z since making his major-league debut in May 2005 and likes everything about the rapper, businessman and part owner of the Brooklyn Nets.
But that’s not why he decided to drop Scott Boras as his agent to become the first athlete represented by Roc Nation, a group that is part of the Creative Artists Agency.
In a three and half minute interview, Cano did not disclose much about the switch. The main points he tried to convey were that it was a family decision and that a lot of people have told him it was a good move to leave the agent known for trying to get virtually all of his clients to free agency.
The question many Yankee fans want to know is if it increases the chances Cano will re-sign in the offseason. Cano is on the last year of a six-year, $57 million deal and reportedly was looking for a $200 million deal similar to those signed by Albert Pujols and Joey Votto recently.
However, Cano remained quiet when asked if it enhanced the likelihood of him remaining in pinstripes.
“I’ll let my agent talk about the contract and stuff like that,” Cano said. “I want to stay with the same team. You know, if my agent decides that and talks to the Yankees, we’ll see what happens.
His comments around a throng of reporters in the clubhouse also will be the last time he talks contract in a public setting.
“Right now, my focus is on playing baseball,” Cano said. “There’s no contract or anything like that on my mind. The season has started and I don’t want to be a distraction for my teammates. All I want to do is focus on playing right now.”
Girardi, Teixeira talks agent switches
The only issue manager Joe Girardi could see about Robinson Cano switching to an agency headed by Jay-Z would be recording an album and even when he said that, he was kidding.
In other words switching agents doesn’t make Girardi think his star second baseman’s personality will change.
"Robby loves to play this game,” Girardi said. “When a guy changes agents, I don't really think it necessarily changes the guy. It changes his representation but it doesn't change who Robby Cano is. Everything that I've seen from Robby is that he loves to play this game and is prepared to play every day.
“I don't see why changing agents would change that unless he's got some recording issues that he has to deal with. I don't see how it's going to change him. I haven't heard he's putting out an album.”
Mark Teixeira is someone who can relate to what Cano is going through. The process of free agent speculation began early in his career when he with the Rangers.
The Rangers eventually traded him in July 2007 after their offer did not meet what Teixeira was looking for. The Braves dealt him a year later to the Angels after their offer also fell short in the eyes of Teixeira and Boras.
“In 2005, I was already fitted for pinstripes,” Teixeira said. “It was my third year in baseball and I hit 43 home runs, had a great year and everybody said, 'Great Mark, you won’t be a Ranger much longer.' So I had guys like you [reporters], maybe two or three around, maybe everyday saying, 'When are you going to get traded, when are you going to get traded,' because the Yankees at the time were one of the only teams that could provide the type of contract stability that I wanted, no-trade clause and winning every year.
“Now it seems like every team has that kind of money but when I was a free agent not that long ago and there was only a few teams you could really go to and the Yankees were losing their first baseman.”
Hafner makes first start
The Yankees are opening their season by facing five right-handed pitchers in the first six games. That meant Travis Hafner might not get many starts if any at all.
Instead, last night, Hafner started against Clay Buchholz and made his debut for the team that called his agent in late-January.
Hafner was limited to 66 games in his final season with the Indians. He missed nearly three months with right knee soreness and lower back inflammation but expressed optimism that losing some weight in spring training might help him avoid that problem this year.
“I’ve been able to lose some weight in spring training to take some pressure off my back and leg,” Hafner said. “Everything feels good, so I’m looking forward to the year.”
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.