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Richard Justice

The time is now for Cano to re-sign with Yankees

The time is now for Cano to re-sign with Yankees

The time is now for Cano to re-sign with Yankees

Robinson Cano should telephone Yankees general manager Brian Cashman this very day and have a brief conversation. If he's really lucky, it'll go something like this:

Cano: "Cash, can you run those numbers by me again?"

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Cashman: "Seven years, $170 million."

Cano: "Where do I sign?"

Sure, there's a chance Cano could get more money if he played the market awhile longer. Maybe the Mariners really are interested. And there might be a mystery team out there willing to pony up.

On the other hand, Cano would be taking a huge risk by waiting. He has had a month to evaluate the market and should know what's out there.

The Dodgers, a big-money team, don't appear interested. Neither do the Rangers or Tigers.

The Mets? Nope.

Through the years, we've had teams surprise us often enough that the possibility shouldn't be discounted. Again, though, why wait?

If there really was a team willing to offer $300 million, wouldn't Cano know by now? Maybe this wasn't the offseason to break a salary record.

From the beginning of this process, virtually everyone in the industry believed Cano would end up back with the Yankees. For one thing, the Yanks were going to be aggressive in their pursuit of him. They have been, too.

For another, it seemed like a perfect marriage -- not just in terms of money, but the opportunity to win World Series championships and make significant endorsement money. There just didn't seem to be a reason for Cano to go elsewhere unless another franchise blew him out of the water financially.

If it hasn't happened by now, it seems unlikely to happen at all. Meanwhile, the Yankees wait. They've indicated they'll move on at some point. That may be negotiating bluster, but why should Cano risk it?

Is any team going to offer more? That's the beauty of the system. Every player gets what the market dictates he's worth. He doesn't have to make demands or guess.

The Yankees have gotten better the last week with the signings of Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury. They're good enough to be competitive with this everyday lineup, with or without Cano.

Even if Cano re-signs, the Yanks will begin 2014 with huge questions, most notably regarding how much productive baseball Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira still have in them. Cashman's more pressing concern is upgrading a rotation that has CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, David Phelps and Adam Warren.

Will Cashman be willing to spend big for Cano if he's able to sign Hiroki Kuroda and Matt Garza for his rotation? He most likely will, because Cano is worth waiting for. He's a special player, arguably one of the American League's three best in 2013.

That's why the Yankees apparently have discussed a deal that would be the fourth-largest contract in franchise history. Only Alex Rodriguez ($275 million), Jeter ($189 million) and Teixeira ($180 million) have gotten more.

Cano might even be able to get the final dollar figure past Teixeira and Jeter. Even if he signs for $170 million, he'd be one of the 10 highest-paid players in baseball history. Again, Cano has earned that money. In the past five seasons, he has averaged 160 games, 45 doubles, 28 home runs and an .899 OPS.

Once Jeter is gone, Cano might even become the face of the franchise. That said, he's probably never going to get the kind of endorsement money Jeter has gotten. Jeter is a once-in-a-generation-type player, a resplendent talent because of his production on the field and his contributions to winning.

But Jeter has an appeal to fans that's not easily definable. He played the game so smoothly and conducted himself so professionally that dozens of companies believed he stood for what they hoped to stand for. Andy Pettitte was not that kind of player. No knock on him. He just wasn't. Neither was A-Rod. And Cano probably won't be, either.

Instead, Cano has a chance to be remembered as one of the great players in the history of the greatest professional sports franchise in the history of this country. To be identified with the Yankees that way is about as good as it gets. Unless Cano absolutely knows there's significantly more money to be made elsewhere, and unless it's enough to offset what the Yanks can offer him, he should be dialing Cashman's phone right this minute.

Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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