Jay-Z puts the wrap on Cano’s hello to Seattle
Yeah, Robinson Cano officially became a Mariner today, which for a couple of us who cover the club meant leaving the Winter Meetings a half-day sooner than expected and flying to Seattle for Thursday afternoon’s press conference.
But despite a very short night and long flight, the sleep deprivation was worth it. The Mariners put on quite a show for Cano’s arrival, which included Jay-Z’s presence as Cano is the rap star’s first client in his new sports agency career.
Jay-Z didn’t take center stage for this one, even though he was besieged by photographers when he first entered the room. Although the club did unveil a Cano highlight film accompanied naturally by Jay-Z’s music, the man himself told reporters this was Cano’s day, not his, and he’d prefer to stay out of the spotlight.
And, no, his wife Beyonce wasn’t there at all.
But make no mistake, Jay-Z had his mark on this whole situation. Fellow agent Brodie Van Wagenen is the co-head of the baseball division at CAA Sports. Cano bailed on Scott Boras last year and is now represented by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports, a joint venture between Roc Nation and CAA.
Van Wagenen handled the interviews after Thursday’s press conference, but said Jay-Z definitely played a major role in the negotiations.
“Jay is a partner,” Van Wagenen said. “Jay launched Roc Nation Sports back in April. Obviously Robinson was the first client we worked together with. As I’ve always said, there’s nothing that Roc Nation Sports does that Jay-Z doesn’t have his fingerprints on. Throughout this process, he’s been intimately involved in every step of the way.
“He helped Robinson understand what it meant to be a free agent, what was at stake and what ultimately was most important to him and his family. As the negotiations began, he was involved in the preparation, the strategy and ultimately he was involved in every offer and counter offer we collaborated on.”
Van Wagenen dismissed newspaper reports out of New York that said Jay-Z pushed Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln too far during the final negotiations, resulting in Lincoln storming out of the room after Jay-Z had asked Seattle to raise its offer to $252 million to match A-Rod’s numbers.
“Make believe,” said Van Wagenen. “That was a completely false report. The truth was, we’d reached agreement on terms the night before. Those reports came out that Friday morning and the terms had already been agreed upon.”
Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik mentioned several times that working with Jay-Z and his group had been an enjoyable experience. Zduriencik joked again how he told Jay-Z that he, actually, was the “original JZ.”
And Zduriencik laughingly said he and Jay-Z would be “singing a duet” at some point.
It all drew smiles from the nine-time Grammy nominee. But then again, why not? His first major sports client had just signed a $240 million contract.