Jay Z, Robinson Cano, and the fine art of trolling the Yankees

The Yankees have 99 problems, but the Mets aren't one

Cano, Jay-Z
(Image credit: (Scott Halleran, Jason Szenes/Getty Images))

Professional rapper and aspiring super-agent Jay Z understandably wants to secure the best possible contract for his biggest-name client: Free agent second baseman Robinson Cano.

And to a certain extent, that was the point of his secret meeting Monday with the New York Mets' top brass. The Mets have a habit of throwing around big wads of money at top free agents, and Cano is seeking an enormous — potentially record-setting — deal worth $300 million.

Except the meeting was not really about wringing a whole lot of loose change from Mets COO Jeff Wilpon's pockets, but rather about trying to wrangle it from Cano's most recent employer, the Yankees.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

The Mets have as much of a chance of winning the Cano sweepstakes as Alex Rodriguez does of turning into an actual centaur. In that respect, the meeting was little more than a cheeky attempt to needle the Yankees with the prospect of their cornerstone player suiting up for their crosstown rivals.

In a former year, Cano and the Mets could have been a perfect match. This is a Mets team, after all, that gave $66 million to Jason "Who?" Bay, and whose highest-paid outfielder in 2013 retired in 2001. (No, really: Under an insane contract, the Mets will pay Bobby Bonilla $1.2 million annually through 2035.)

But aside from the fact that relocating from the Bronx to Queens would keep Cano's moving costs down, there's no reason to believe he would actually sign with the Mets.

New York has question marks everywhere on the diamond, and team execs have said that they're highly unlikely to sign anyone to a $100+ million contract, knowing that 2014 will likely be another down year no matter how much they spend. Locking up Cano for triple that — or more realistically, for around the $200 million he's likely to receive — would be crazy. The team even reportedly told Jay Z and his partners before the meeting they had no intention of signing Cano.

The Yankees are not going to give Cano $300 million, because even the Yankees have a limit to their spendthrift ways. And it's hard to envision any other team, even the big-money Dodgers, doling that out for a player on the wrong side of 30.

Still, Jay Z can try to drive up the competition by shopping Cano around to every possible suitor, creating the impression that there's a better market out there. (Really, is it all that surprising details of a supposedly "secret" meeting leaked so quickly?)

In the end, Cano will probably stick with the Yankees. They have the money, and with Jeter on his way toward retirement, they're in need of a new face of the franchise.

But hey, if you're the Mets, you don't turn down a fancy free dinner from Jay Z — and especially not when it doubles as a poke in the eye to your big brother across town.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.