''If the numbers are right, he had 240 million reasons why he should go to Seattle,'' Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said poolside at the Swan and Dolphin Hotel on Tuesday. ''If I was him, I would've done the same thing.''
The five-time All-Star agreed last week with the Mariners on a deal said to be worth $240 million over 10 year. That didn't surprise the Yankees, whose final offer was for $175 million over seven years.
Still, the 31-year-old second baseman represented by Jay-Z's Roc Nation and CAA Sports was New York's most feared hitter for the past several years. And the loss of a middle infielder who bats .300 and hits 30 homers stings.
''Robbie Cano is not a guy that's easily replaced. That is the bottom line,'' manager Joe Girardi said at the winter meetings. ''We're going to miss him, there is no doubt about it.''
Yankees President Randy Levine said the length of the deal was a sticking point.
''We're not doing 10-year deals. We found in our own experience they just don't work,'' he said at a news conference in New York for the Pinstripe Bowl between Notre Dame and Rutgers at Yankee Stadium.
''We did everything we could to bring him back. We offered him $175 million over seven years,'' Levine said. ''That's a lot of money. That's a really rich package. He did a lot better. We wish him the best, but we tried. If $175 million isn't trying, then I don't know what is.''
Cano joins a team that went 71-91 last season and finished 25 games out of first in the AL West.
''A guy like Robinson Cano makes you really smart, really quick. Hopefully we can get a couple more pieces like that,'' new Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. ''He's extremely happy to be a Mariner. He's excited about the up- -and-coming year and things that he can provide and will provide.''
The Yankees signed utilityman Kelly Johnson to a $3 million, one-year contract last week, and Cashman said he could see considerable playing time at second and third base, depending on the outcome of the appeal of Alex Rodriguez's 211-game suspension.
But Cashman also said that he is trying to upgrade those two positions, either by trade - outfielder Brett Gardner is mentioned most in potential deals - or by another free-agent signing.
Rodriguez's fate should figure considerably into the Yankees' plans. The grievance filed by the players' association to overturn the discipline likely will be decided in January by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz.
''What probably we're all looking for is clarity. What's going to happen?'' Girardi said. ''Obviously the sooner there is a decision made, the quicker you can decide what to do with your club.''
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