Can’t Knock the Hustle — Jay Z was involved in Robinson Cano’s $240 million deal ‘every step of the way’

Big League Stew

It was quite the day in the Carter-Knowles household Thursday. Beyonce Knowles, the famous pop singer, unleashed a surprise album upon the world that the Internet still hasn't stopped talking about. Meanwhile, her husband, Shawn Carter — you might also know him as Jay Z — was alongside baseball star Robinson Cano as his $240 million contract with the Seattle Mariners became official.

Cano, as you surely remember, was Jay Z's first client when the rap mogul decided to start a sports agency within his Roc Nation conglomerate. The relationships are a bit more nuanced than Jay Z and Robbie Cano, a two-man team looking for millions and millions of dollars.

Roc Nation partnered with Creative Artists Agency, one of Hollywood's top talent agencies. And CAA's head honcho for baseball Brodie Van Wagenen worked directly with Cano and Jay Z. CAA reps stars such as Buster Posey, Ryan Howard, Ryan Braun, Matt Cain and Adam Jones. So while Hov was a rookie, there was no doubt, reasonable or otherwise, that Cano was being repped by experienced folks.

With that in mind, it might have been easy to dismiss Jay Z's role as nothing more than a famous name and face meant to up Cano's star quotient (and price?). Jay Z was, after all, on tour since Nov. 30. How hands-on could he really have been?

With the deal done, the contracts signed and everyone in Seattle aboard the "Hello Cano" bandwagon, we're now learning more about what the negotiations were like, and what role Jay Z actually played. Turns out, he wasn't just a megastar slapping his name on something to get a percentage. He was in thick of things.

As Van Wagenen told's Greg Johns:

"As I’ve always said, there’s nothing that Roc Nation Sports does that Jay-Z doesn’t have his fingerprints on. Throughout this process, he’s been intimately involved in every step of the way.

“He helped Robinson understand what it meant to be a free agent, what was at stake and what ultimately was most important to him and his family. As the negotiations began, he was involved in the preparation, the strategy and ultimately he was involved in every offer and counter offer we collaborated on.”

Now, what of the story that said Jay Z pushed too hard for more money and angered the Mariners? You'll remember that it was the big talk of the baseball world just a few hours before everything changed and we found out Cano had indeed agreed to join the Mariners.

False, says Van Wagenen. Here's more from

“Make believe,” said Van Wagenen. “That was a completely false report. The truth was, we’d reached agreement on terms the night before. Those reports came out that Friday morning and the terms had already been agreed upon.”

Some people predicted Jay Z would fail Cano. Especially those who turned up their nose at the idea of a rapper getting involved in the tradition-rich game of baseball. Sounds like the only people who might say Hov — a New York boy himself and a big Yankees fan — failed are the pinstripe loyalists who expected him to deliver Cano back to the Big Apple.

Let's all remember, though, we're talking about a man whose first single, way back in 1995, was "Dead Presidents."

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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