NEW YORK -- Yankees officials were confused and surprised to hear Robinson Cano say that he "didn't feel respect" from his former club throughout the negotiations that led to the second baseman's massive new contract with the Mariners.
Cano made the comments during his introductory news conference on Thursday at Safeco Field, as Seattle officially finished off a 10-year, $240 million pact with the five-time All-Star.
The Yankees' top offer to Cano was seven years and $175 million, and managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said that he was not taking Cano's comment personally.
"I'm a little surprised," Steinbrenner said. "There was nothing disrespectful about the last offer that was on the table. I'm not quite sure why he feels that way, but it is what it is."
Steinbrenner continued: "Robbie was a great Yankee. He's a great player and we wish him all the best. He's going to do great there and he's going to be a big part of that organization. Bottom line with us was, we never got close. We were always a significant distance apart."
Team president Randy Levine pointed out that the seven-year, $175 million deal the club offered to Cano would have represented the third-highest current average annual value in baseball, behind only Alex Rodriguez ($27.5 million) and Justin Verlander ($25.7 million).
"I feel bad for him, because I think he's disappointed he's not a Yankee," Levine said. "But I respect him and he's free to say whatever he wants to say. We still respect him and he'll always be fondly remembered as a Yankee."
Levine said that the Yankees "tried very hard" to re-sign Cano, and he added that "nobody begrudges him" for taking the biggest offer on the table. But Levine said that the Bombers have decided to set a policy to no longer offer 10-year contracts to players over 30.
"They just have not worked out for us," Levine said. "They have not worked out -- I believe -- for the industry. When we signed Derek Jeter to a 10-year contract [in February 2001], I believe he was 26. In that context, it makes sense. If Mike Trout was here, I'd recommend the 10-year contract. But for people over 30, I don't believe it makes sense."
General manager Brian Cashman said that Cano's representatives replied to their seven-year, $175 million offer by insisting that it would take 10 years and $235 million to keep Cano in New York; just $5 million less than he eventually received from Seattle.
Cashman said that prompted the Yankees to recognize that Cano would be leaving. They pivoted to outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, inking him to a seven-year, $153 million contract that includes a vesting option for an eighth season.
Asked on Thursday if he felt the Yankees wanted him back, Cano replied: "I'd have to say no. I didn't feel respect. We never got that close commitment about anything."
Cano added that he was disappointed about how his negotiations with the Yankees wrapped up.
"I would never say anything bad about them," Cano said. "I just want to leave the good memory I have in New York. I respect my teammates and the organization. I want to be able to go back and say hi to them."
Cashman said that the Yankees still view Cano as a Hall of Fame-caliber player, but they balked at his contract demands at every stage of negotiations, including when talks with agent Brodie Van Wagenen opened with a $310 million request this past spring.
"I wish him the best of luck. I can't tell you anything more than good things about Robbie," Cashman said. "I'm sorry he feels that way. I understand that that's also usually a part of the process when things don't go the way you want them to go from both ends.
"Bouquets, bouquets, bouquets. I'll throw him bouquets all he wants, but I couldn't throw him $235 million."