Ortiz, speaking in an interview with WEEI Radio in Boston, said the Yankees lost "the face" of the team when they failed to re-sign the free agent second baseman, who has reportedly agreed to a 10-year, $240 million contract with Seattle.
"This guy hurt us," Ortiz said. "He is the guy that, you're never going to forget about him because he puts up some monster numbers. He puts up some monster numbers. Now let's see how everything goes with him on the West Coast."
Ortiz said he wasn't surprised by the length or amount of the deal. It was the fact the Yankees didn't retain Cano that caught Ortiz off guard, he said.
"That's what the players are getting -- young, talented players with the skills that he has, that's what they're getting," Ortiz told WEEI Radio. "I couldn't believe the Yankees let that walk away. He's the face, as long as he played for the Yankees, he was the face of that ballclub. He was backing up everybody."
According to ESPN sources, Cano, 31, will return to Seattle on Sunday before undergoing a physical Monday to complete what would be the third-largest contract in baseball history, tied with the one Albert Pujols signed with Los Angeles Angels three years ago.
Future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr., the longtime former face of the Mariners, said he was optimistic signing Cano could lead to a progression of higher-tier additions for the team.
"It can happen," Griffey said, according to The Seattle Times. "I hope it does. We've struggled as a whole getting people to come there, hopefully this is an eye opener to get guys to come here in their prime and start changing the way things have been."
Ortiz called Cano's deal "well deserved."
"I'm telling you, I knew he was going to get something around that because he's one of the best players in the game right now and that's where the best players are at," Ortiz said. "The way he makes the game look, it's ridiculous. It's just impossible.
"He makes the game look so easy. ... Now, we're not going to be able to see him that much, thank God. He's going to the West Coast. Wishing him the best. He's a good friend of mine, and like I said, well deserved."