ROBINSON CANO seemed to be next in line as the player to wear pinstripes for his entire career, all set to follow the path laid before him by mentors named Jeter, Posada and Rivera.

And then the Seattle Mariners blew him away with an offer of financial and career security the New York Yankees never came close to matching.

"I was looking for a contract where I would just be able to play and focus on the game and wouldn't wonder when I'm 37, 38 would I have a job one day. Would I be able to play?" Cano said. "The one thing in Seattle is I get the chance. Am I going to keep working hard? Yes. Even harder? Yes. I'm going to do my best and play the same way I was playing in New York."

Cano never stopped smiling yesterday as he was introduced as the Mariners' new All-Star second baseman. He had $240 million reasons to grin after signing a deal that tied for the fourth largest in baseball history. He has security for the next 10 years knowing that at age 31, he'll likely never go through the process of needing to seek another contact.

Asked if he ever thought he'd leave New York, Cano said, "Honestly, no." Later, Cano said he never felt the Yanks wanted him back. "I didn't feel respect. I didn't get respect from them and I didn't see any effort," Cano said.

The Yankees' top offer was $175 million over 7 years.

Noteworthy

* Outfielder Nate McLouth passed his physical and signed his 2-year contract with Washington . . . Outfielder Michael Morse and San Francisco reached agreement on a 1-year, $6 million contract . . . Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was selected by the Texas Rangers from the Colorado Rockies in the Triple A portion of baseball's winter meeting draft . . . The Detroit Tigers added depth to their bullpen by signing free agent Joba Chamberlain . . . The Chicago Cubs obtained outfielder Justin Ruggiano from the Miami Marlins for lefthanded hitter Brian Bogusevic, a reserve outfielder.