Delcos: Keep Cano, Punish Magic

Gotham_G_web (1)There is one thing certain about Robinson Cano’s pending free agency: He will make a lot of money, but it won’t be close to the reported $305 million package he now denies seeking.

Whatever Cano wants, his agents can’t be happy with Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson’s proclamation his team isn’t interested in the mercurial second baseman.

Had Cano kept agent Scott Boras that would have been a minor obstacle, because there’s no one better when it comes to pulling a mystery team out of the blue to compete with the Yankees.

The Yankees had to be thrilled about Johnson’s statement because it helped define the market for Cano, who by the way, isn’t close to be worth $200 million, let alone $300 million.

Cano’s agents should be seriously miffed because it reduced the market for their client. Johnson is new at the ownership game, but even he had to be smart enough to realize he can’t comment on a player under contract with another team, which Cano still is with the Yankees.

Commenting on a player not on your team is tampering, and although Johnson said the Dodgers aren’t interested, he inadvertently helped set the market for Cano.

Despite Johnson’s comments falling on the pro-owner side, the Commissioner’s office – even if it is nothing more than for show because we know what side of Bud Selig’s bread is buttered by whom – must reprimand Johnson and the Dodgers for they wrongly influenced the Cano market.

With the Dodgers seemingly out of it, the Yankees seem to be the only buyer for Cano. Assuming that is the case, the Yankees need to run with this break and tell Cano: “Our best offer is $125 million over five years. If you can come back to us with a better proposal in writing we’ll talk. If you can’t, take it or leave it.’’

Cano is a marvelous talent, but I’m not buying recent columns suggesting it doesn’t look like he’s hustling because he makes things look so easy and his work ethic is strong, but that’s seen behind closed doors.

The perception is Cano doesn’t hustle, doesn’t run out ground balls and too often is nonchalant in his style. The perception is true. No, not everybody can be Derek Jeter, but there’s never a reason not to hustle, and the Yankees better think twice if they want that attitude to be the face of the franchise when Jeter retires.

The Yankees need to keep their offer close to what I suggest because the money spent on Cano could be better spent filling a myriad of holes, from catcher to the rotation to the bullpen and the outfield.

Joe Girardi did a marvelous job this season using a patchwork lineup. Nobody knows what will happen with Alex Rodriguez’s suspension or the physical status of Jeter and Mark Teixeira, but assuming the worst, Cano isn’t the answer.

Despite all the talk about needing star power to feed their network, it must be remembered that with the Yankees, with no looming Mickey Mantle, the ultimate star is a winning team, and Cano by himself isn’t enough.

So, if Cano believes he can get that huge payday and not give the Yankees the home team discount, then let him go for it.

The Yankees regret the last years of Jeter’s deal. Of course, they regret the Rodriguez contract and should have let him walk when they had the chance. Big deals given Teixeira and C.C. Sabathia are also haunting them.

The last thing they need is to get bogged down with another anchor of a deal. Cut Cano off at five years or let him go.

I don’t know what Cano was thinking going with Jay-Z’s agency over Boras. Jay-Z is in way over his head on this and he’ll drag down Cano unless he can find legitimate competition.

There could be other teams, but the supposed franchises with money have reasons to shy away from Cano.

Boston already has a second baseman, Dustin Pedroia, who is arguably better than Cano – but with less power – and never stops running. The Angels are already burdened by, and probably regret the deals given Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. The Chicago Cubs have resources, but far too many holes that won’t be addressed by signing Cano.

One can envision Cano in Detroit’s lineup, but their payroll will be seriously stretched if the Tigers sign him. After falling short in disappointing style for the fourth straight season, Texas might want to make a splash, that is, if they didn’t learn from Rodriguez.

The Yankees are negotiating with themselves. They need to take a hardline stance with Cano, who seems to want to run out of town faster than he ever ran to first base.

John Delcos has covered Major League Baseball for over 20 years, including the Yankees and Mets beats. He is a Hall of Fame voter, and currently owns and operates