The New York Yankees have made it clear they would like to keep second baseman Robinson Cano in pinstripes for the foreseeable future, but as the two sides begin discussing a contract extension, there is a glaring obstacle between them which could lead to the All-Star hitting the open market next winter.
Contract talks have started slow because there is a significant difference in either talent assessment or valuation, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman notes the Yankees view Cano as a top 10 player in the league, or at worst a top 15 player. However, Cano and his agent Scott Boras rank him higher on that list.
"There are few elite players. That just is a very short list — less than five," said Boras of his client.
Though the differences between the two sides doesn't seem like a big deal, a matter of millions could force the talks to be tabled until after the season, similar to the way the Yankees and Russell Martin agreed to wait until the season was over when they couldn't agree to an extension last winter.
Following the season, Martin signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates after the Yankees failed to match their offer. Following the upcoming season, Cano will be widely regarded as the top free agent on the market, should the Yankees fail to extend his deal by then.
One more potential roadblock in negotiations is the team's new goal of lowering their payroll under the $189 million luxury tax threshold by the start of the 2014 season. Should Cano and Boras ask for a deal worth $200 million, as some expect, the Yankees might not have the flexibility to offer such a contract.
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