HOWIE RUMBERG

AP Sports Writer

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The New York Yankees are sorry to see Robinson Cano go -- not that they blame him.

"If the numbers are right, he had 240 million reasons why he should go to Seattle," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said poolside at the Swan and Dolphin Hotel on Tuesday. "If I was him I would’ve done the same thing."

The five-time All-Star agreed to a $240 million, 10-year contract with the Mariners last week, a deal that didn’t surprise the Yankees, whose best offer was for $175 million over seven years.

Still, the 31-year-old second baseman represented by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and CAA Baseball was New York’s most feared hitter for the past several years. And the loss of a middle infielder who bats .300 and hits 30 homers stings.

"Robbie Cano is not a guy that’s easily replaced. That is the bottom line," manager Joe Girardi said at the winter meetings. "We’re going to miss him, there is no doubt about it."

Yankees President Randy Levine said the length of the deal was a sticking point.

"We’re not doing 10-year deals. We found in our own experience they just don’t work," he said at a news conference in New York for the Pinstripe Bowl between Notre Dame and Rutgers at Yankee Stadium.

"We did everything we could to bring him back. We offered him $175 million over seven years," Levine said. "That’s a lot of money. That’s a really rich package. He did a lot better. We wish him the best, but we tried.

"If $175 million isn’t trying, then I don’t know what is."

The Yankees signed utilityman Kelly Johnson to a $3 million, one-year contract last week, and Cashman said he could see considerable playing time at second and third base, depending on the outcome of the appeal of Alex Rodriguez’s 211-game suspension.

But Cashman also said that he is trying to upgrade those two positions, either by trade -- outfielder Brett Gardner is mentioned most in potential deals -- or by another free-agent signing.

Rodriguez’s fate should figure considerably into the Yankees’ plans. A decision about the appeal is expected in January.

"What probably we’re all looking for is clarity. What’s going to happen?" Girardi said. "Obviously the sooner there is a decision made, the quicker you can decide what to do with your club."