In a scenario New York Yankees fans would have scoffed at last season, the possibility of seeing Robinson Cano, the team's best all-around player, in anything but pinstripes just might become reality after the 2013 season.
According to two industry sources familiar with Cano's situation, the Yankees' Gold Glove second baseman may very well leave the team once he becomes a free agent, reports the New York Daily News.
"I don't think he'll be with the Yankees beyond next season," one of the sources told the Daily News. "He's not giving them a hometown discount, and they seem to be more interested in keeping their payroll down than winning."
Cano, who was attending the celebrity golf tournament sponsored by his friend David Ortiz this weekend at the Dominican Cap Cano resort told the newspaper that he would "love" to remain a Yankee for life, but added: "I know this is a business ... it's up to them."
Three major factors will help determine whether or not the Yankees All-Star second baseman stays in the Bronx.
First, is the Yankees' new payroll belt-tightening by Hal Steinbrenner — who hopes to get the team's payroll down to $189 million before 2014 to avoid a huge luxury-tax. Cano will be asking for everything but Derek Jeter's black book.
Second, is the fact that Cano is represented by super agent Scott Boras, who was behind teammate Alex Rodriguez's record $252 million deal with the Texas Rangers in 2001 and before the current 10-year, $275 million dollar contract A-Rod signed with the Yankees in 2007. He will make sure Cano doesn't come cheap.
Third, is the lesson learned from signing the then 32-year-old A-Rod to a 10-year deal when he was heading towards the downside of his career. The Yankees are now strapped with the declining and now injured third baseman for another five years.
Cano will be 31-year-old next year and the source said he will seek a similar deal similar to A-Rod's — money that the Yankees probably won't want to tie up for a decade.
"He's the best player on the Yankees," the second source said. " There's no reason for him not to be paid that way."
Boras said during this week's winter meetings that he doesn't plan on discussing a new contract for Cano until next offseason.
It's a moot point. The Yankees have a strict policy of not starting contract discussions until after the final year of the contract. Who can forget Derek Jeter's contentious talks before the 2011 season. This could be just as interesting.
"I think the Yankees policy is very clear, that they always walk through the contracts and then address them when they end," said Boras. "We just will get [Cano] ready to play the season, play out the season and then evaluate things at the end of '13."
Asked about the possibility of Cano bolting for free agency, a team official declined comment, calling it "typical offseason speculation."
Cano has already been warned by his peers about the rough waters he is about to tread as a free agent for the first time.
"I've never been in that position before. I hear guys saying it's not fun when you're going to be a free agent, stuff like that," said Cano about the road ahead come next winter.
Still, he was optimistic he will be playing in pinstripes for the remainder of his career.
"Why not? It's like where you grew up — as kids, you always want to stay with your people," the laid-back Cano said. "But I know this is a business. That's what it is."