Mariners targeting Robinson Cano

Instead, the Yankees presented an analysis of Cano's value that determined he was worth approximately $25 million per season -- below Rodriguez's record annual average salary of $27.5 million but equal to what is being paid to Hamilton, Howard and Felix Hernandez -- but for no more than seven years, considering he turned 31 in October.

According to the source, Cano's side presented its client as not only "the best player on the board,'' but also as the best player in baseball and someone who is "indispensable'' to the Yankees.

The Yankees disagreed with that statement and cited diminished attendance and TV ratings in 2013 in the absence of Rodriguez and Jeter, both of whom missed much of the season because of injuries, as evidence that Cano lacks the star power to attract ticket buyers.

"We don't see Robbie Cano as the best player in the game,'' one of participants at the meeting is reported to have said. "We see him as one of the best.''

Cano is a career .309 hitter who has averaged 28 home runs and 103 RBIs in each of his past five seasons. In 2013, hitting with little or no protection in the Yankees' injury-depleted lineup, Cano batted a team-high .314 with 27 HRs and 107 RBIs and had an .899 OPS. He has finished in the top 10 in the last four American League MVP ballots, coming in fifth this year.

According to an executive familiar with both the Cano meetings and the struggle to work out a new contract for Jeter in 2010: "These negotiations have been far less contentious.''

"Jeter was very unhappy [with his negotiations],'' the source said, "but in the end, he compromised, because he really wanted to be a Yankee.''

Three years later, the Yankees aren't so sure they can say the same about Cano.

Andrew Marchand of contributed to this story.

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