Mariners, Robinson Cano agree on deal

SEATTLE — Robinson Cano is trading pinstripes for the Pacific Northwest.

The free agent second baseman and the Seattle Mariners have reached agreement on a deal, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on Friday.

ESPN reported earlier Friday that the contract was worth $240 million for 10 years.

The person told the AP that the deal was pending a physical that had not yet been scheduled. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because there was no official announcement.

Music mogul Jay-Z, whose Roc Nation has partnered with CAA Baseball to represent Cano, was in Seattle for talks that began Thursday and stretched into Friday. Agent Brodie Van Wagenen of CAA Baseball and Juan Perez of Roc Nation Sports also were in attendance.

Cano had spent his entire career with the New York Yankees and was a five-time All-Star. He played in 160 games last season and hit .314 with 27 homers and 107 RBIs.

The Yankees had offered $175 million over seven years. New York went 85-77 last season and missed the playoffs for only the second time in 19 years; Seattle went 71-91 and hasn’t been in the playoffs since 2001.

“He was a great Yankee. He was a great player. I think everybody tried hard to get the deal done. We just never got close enough obviously. We wish him the best. We hope he has a long, healthy career,” Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said Friday. “We’re going to keep going. We’re still looking at all the same guys that we were looking at a week ago or two ago. We’re going to continue to improve. We’re not done spending.”

The Mariners weren’t saying much of anything.

“We are not able to confirm any news regarding Robinson Cano at this time. If and when an agreement is completed and finalized, we will announce,” the team said in a statement.

The deal would be tied for the fourth-richest contract in baseball history and a striking blow from a franchise that’s done little to get noticed for the past decade.

Only the two deals signed by Alex Rodriguez — first with Texas and then the Yankees — and Joey Votto’s contract with Cincinnati were worth more. Albert Pujols also signed a $240 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels.

Cano posted a .899 on-base plus slugging percentage last season and finished fifth in American League most valuable player voting.

He’s been one of the most durable players in baseball for the past seven seasons, missing only 14 out of 1,120 games since the start of the 2007 season. He’s a career .309 hitter who has averaged 24 homers and 97 RBIs per season. Cano has hit at least 25 homers and had a slugging percentage above .500 in every season since 2009.

Cano could be the anchor for a lineup that’s lacked consistency at the plate most of the past decade.

Between 2009 and 2012, Seattle’s offense ranked last in baseball in batting average, and was near the bottom in runs scored and homers. The Mariners showed some pop this past season with 188 home runs — second-most in baseball — but 52 of those came from the combo of Kendrys Morales and 41-year-old Raul Ibanez, both free agents.

It’s the second straight offseason Seattle will have made a massive financial commitment after giving a $175 million, seven-year deal to ace Felix Hernandez last winter. Seattle has plenty of financial room to make significant cash commitments because the only major contracts on the books for 2014 are for Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, and only Michael Saunders and Justin Smoak are entering arbitration.

Helping provide room to increase the payroll is the Mariners’ investment in a new regional sports network that is expected to net Seattle significant revenue in the coming years and it’s not a surprise the club was able to make such a staggering offer.

But finalizing a deal with Cano won’t solve all of Seattle’s problems. It’s a start, immediately adding a legitimate slugger to the middle of a lineup that finally showed some pop last season after years of floundering with one of the worst offenses in baseball. The Mariners have plenty of other problems to solve, including adding another established starter to their rotation and finding solutions for an outfield filled with questions.

The potential acquisition of Cano could mean a move is made with Nick Franklin or Dustin Ackley. Franklin became Seattle’s starting second baseman for the majority of last season after an early promotion from the minors. He showed flashes at the plate but slumped badly in the later months of the season and his defense was always a concern.

Ackley was Seattle’s second baseman of the future when he was selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 draft, but went through his own hitting swoon. Ackley was demoted to the minors to try to find his swing and was moved from second base to playing in the outfield.

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