November 23rd, 2013

About that Robinson Cano rumor

The rumor began circulating on Twitter Thursday evening from someone who cited his brother who was an air traffic controller that Robinson Cano and his well-known agent, Jay-Z, had just landed in Canton.

By Friday morning, the rumor had been circulated enough that fans were tweeting he was still in town meeting with Tigers personnel.

By Friday evening, the buzz drew a speculative report in the Detroit News, centering around a charter jet owned by a private aircraft rental service that had taken off from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey and landed at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti Friday morning, just after 8:30. The flight stuck around until 2pm, when it took off back for Teterboro. Because it’s a private jet, there was no identifying who was on the flight, which keeps the intrigue going.

By late Friday night, it drew a question and response from Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski, who has a policy of not talking about specific free agents from other teams but told MLive.com, “We plan on having Ian Kinsler as our second baseman next year.”

It became quite a rumor, but there are some serious holes.

First, the rumor originated Thursday evening with the talk of Jay-Z and Cano landing in the area. Jay-Z was spotted shortly after that … in Oklahoma City. He was with his wife, Beyonce, courtside for the Clippers-Thunder game to watch his top sports client, Kevin Durant. Here’s Jay-Z at the game celebrating a fan hitting a half-court shot.

Second, I checked with a source late Friday morning when the rumors were building, and it was business as usual at Tigers offices. If Cano was in Detroit, the answer went, he wasn’t with them. It doesn’t mean Cano couldn’t have arrived after that for a quick meeting on short or no notice, but that seems like a lot for an early-morning charter jet to a city for spontaneous talks. And if he was on that aforementioned jet at Willow Run, which took off for Teterboro just after 2pm, it would have made for a real quick trip. The airport is about 10 miles further west of Detroit than Metro Airport.

But there’s a third, more fundamental problem here: For Robinson Cano, a secret visit makes no sense.

By all accounts, Cano is looking for a standard-setting contract as the top free agent on the market, but the question — especially in New York — is whether there’s enough of a market to drive up the price. If Cano is getting on a plane and visiting a team, what’s the point of keeping it a secret? It serves his purposes more to get it out as much as possible, especially in New York media. When Jay-Z and agent Brodie Van Wagenen had dinner with the Mets earlier in the week, it was reported all over, with Mets personnel even commenting on it. Even if nobody wants to comment, a public sighting somewhere in town — eating lunch, getting into a car, getting off of a charter jet at Metro, anything — serves the purpose. A leak in New York does the same. A secondhand tweet does not.

There are free agents who have pulled this off to their advantage. Carl Pavano flew to Detroit to visit the Tigers when he was a free agent after the 2004 season, and his agent, Scott Shapiro, made it part of a multi-city tour to visit several teams.

Bottom line, it was a rumor that made for a fun Friday, but it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

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