Cano's focus on season, not pending free agency
Yankees, agent Boras have had 'conversation or two' about long-term contract
TAMPA, Fla. -- Robinson Cano has developed into one of the game's top talents and should be poised to collect a huge payday when he hits free agency, but the Yankees second baseman doesn't want to look that far ahead.
Cano said on Monday that he wants to keep his attention firmly set on the field for the upcoming season, a campaign that promises to see him leaned upon as a major force in the heart of the Bombers' lineup.
"I don't feel anything about nervousness," Cano said. "To be honest, I'm not focused on free agency. My focus right now is on the 2013 season. I still have one more year under contract and my mind right now is just on helping the team win another championship."
Cano, 30, had a $15 million option picked up by the Yankees in October, coming off a regular season in which he batted .313 with a career-high 33 home runs and 94 RBIs before disappearing into a 3-for-40 skid during the postseason.
This season will conclude Cano's current deal with the Yanks. Managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said that the club has had "a conversation or two" with Cano's representative, Scott Boras, about keeping Cano in pinstripes beyond this season.
"I'm not thinking about anything," Cano said. "Those kinds of things? I'll just let my agent, Scott, handle it."
The Yankees are certainly thinking about it, though. With the team aiming to reduce payroll below $189 million for the 2014 season, there is concern that Cano could be tempted to see what the open market will offer.
It has been suggested that Cano could seek a commitment of eight to 10 years in the ballpark of $25 million per season, and players typically do not leave their agents to sign with Boras if they are not looking to cash in.
|"I don't feel anything about nervousness. To be honest, I'm not focused on free agency. My focus right now is on the 2013 season. I still have one more year under contract and my mind right now is just on helping the team win another championship."|
|-- Robinson Cano|
"It's not about the money, but I don't want to go into details right now," Cano said. "I'm just focused on playing the game and helping the team win another championship."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he thinks Cano will be able to handle any distractions that his uncertain future provides, but suggested the allure of a massive deal could impact Cano's year in a variety of ways.
"I think you always worry a little bit about guys during contract years," Girardi said. "Sometimes it really works out to your advantage, too. That's one of those things, but you don't want guys to put too much pressure on themselves.
"If they have bad weeks, you've had bad weeks before, and you fought out of that. Don't let it snowball. Robbie's a pretty even-keeled guy who brings a smile every day, and I think you'll still see that."
Cano said that he did not know if he would be open to discussing a contract extension during the season, something that the Yankees have typically avoided in the cases of stars like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.
"That's a good question. I haven't really thought about it," Cano said. "Right now, I'm just focused on playing the game, getting ready for Spring Training, now that we're not going to have Alex [Rodriguez]."
Cano said that he feels no greater responsibility to the Yankees because of Rodriguez's absence; Rodriguez is expected to be sidelined until at least after the All-Star break while he recovers from left hip surgery.
"I always feel like that, because with the Yankees, you always have to produce if you want to stay here and play for this team," Cano said. "This team is all about championships, so you have to produce and be able to help the team win championships."
As a four-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger and two-time Gold Glover, Cano has certainly done his share of helping the Yankees win games over the years.
Steinbrenner recently called Cano "a great Yankee" and expressed hope that Cano will remain in pinstripes for his entire career, but it seems that those discussions will have to wait for another day.
"I still have one year and just got to go out there and just perform," Cano said. "I've got another year and my focus now is to help the team, be with my teammates and have fun, and at the end of the season, just end it up with the [World Series] trophy."