"Bouquets. Bouquets. Bouquets. I'll throw him bouquets all he wants," general manager Brian Cashman said, "But I couldn't throw him $235 million."
Cashman and Yankees officials spoke Friday, a day after the All-Star second baseman finalized a $240 million,10-year contract with the Seattle Mariners.
At his news conference in Seattle on Thursday, Cano was critical of the Yankees, saying: "I didn't feel respect. I didn't get respect from them, and I didn't see any effort."
New York's final offer was $175 million over seven years.
"We made an offer we were comfortable with making. It fell far short of obviously where Seattle was," Cashman said. "So, in terms of respect, they showed a lot more respect financially than we did."
A season from free agency, Cano asked last spring for a $310 million, 10-year agreement. Cashman said before the deal with the Mariners, agents Brodie Van Wagenen and Jay Z called Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner and the GM, then said Cano would accept a $235 million deal to remain with New York.
Cano's contract matches the fourth-largest in baseball history. New York's offer, while for less guaranteed money, would have equaled the third-highest average salary of $25 million.
Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner wasn't disappointed with Cano's remarks but was "a little surprised."
"There was nothing disrespectful about the last offer that was on the table," Steinbrenner said. "Not quite sure why he feels that way."
New York officials spoke after a news conference to introduce outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who agreed to a $153 million, seven-year deal. Steinbrenner said there was always "significant distance" in talks with Cano.
"I think he was very disappointed that he's not a New York Yankee anymore. I think anybody would be disappointed when you leave the New York Yankees," team President Randy Levine said. "We treated him with the utmost respect. We respect him to this day."
After watching Alex Rodriguez sidelined in each of the last five years of his $275 million, 10-year deal — which has four seasons remaining and takes the third baseman to age 43— the Yankees didn't want to make that long a commitment to the 31-year-old Cano.
Levine said Derek Jeter's $189 million, 10-year contract in 2001 was different.
"For players over 30 years old, we don't believe in 10-year contracts. They just have not worked out for us. They have not worked out, I believe, for the industry," Levine said.
"When we signed Derek Jeter to a 10-year contract, I believe he was 26. In that context, it makes sense. If Mike Trout was here, I would recommend a 10-year contract. But for people over 30, I don't believe it makes sense."
Trout, a 22-year-old star on the Los Angeles Angels, was second in AL MVP voting in each of the last two seasons. He is eligible for free agency after the 2017 season.