While acquiring the left-handed ace would have given the Yankees a sizable winter boost, Cano believes the club's prospects for 2008 remain strong -- though he'd rather not see Santana wind up with the Red Sox.
"We've got some great players," Cano said. "If we don't get a deal, we've got to play with our guys. In baseball, you never know what's going to happen. You've just got to keep fighting and play hard."
"It's a great deal if we can get Santana. We need it. We need a No. 1 guy like him. ... If [the Red Sox] got Santana, they're going to be a way better team. I hope we get him. It's not a good idea for us if they get Santana."
Cano made an appearance on Monday at the Center Grove Elementary School in Randolph, N.J., speaking to approximately four dozen children in a gymnasium while offering a few pointers on baseball basics.
News of the Yankees' reported withdrawal from discussions with the Twins regarding Santana should provide Cano's good friend, Melky Cabrera, with some relief. The second baseman said that continued rumors over a potential trade with the Twins had drawn Cabrera's attention over the last several weeks.
"It's like I tell him -- don't pay attention to the rumors," Cano said of Cabrera. "If you get traded, just keep playing. He wants to be a Yankee; he said he doesn't want to leave. I told him, 'If you have to leave, keep playing hard. You never know. You might come back.'
"I love Melky, but he [would] play every day in Minnesota. If the deal is going to be great for him, I'll be happy. That's what I told him. If you're going to play every day, you prove to yourself that you can be in the big leagues. You don't want to be sitting on the bench."
Cano, 25, said he has spent the majority of his winter working out in the Dominican Republic. His brief run with the Orientales Estrellas of the Dominican Winter League drew attention when the Yankees instructed Cano to leave the team last month.
Cano had been cleared to play six games in the league to test an injury suffered in September -- a pulled an abdominal muscle that no longer feels painful, he said -- and was sternly reminded of his limit when general manager Brian Cashman noticed Cano had already played in 10 games.
"I was really surprised," Cano said. "I didn't know they were going to call. But they are my boss, so I do whatever they want me to do. I just [went] home and kept working."
Cano, who batted .306 with 19 home runs and 97 RBIs in a career-high 160 games for the Yankees in 2007, said that he has interest in signing a deal to remain in New York for the foreseeable future.
Both Cano, who is arbitration eligible this year, and his agent, Bobby Barad, said that no dialogue has been opened with the club regarding a new contract.
"I would like to go long-term, but they haven't said anything yet," Cano said. "I hope it happens. If not, I'll just keep playing."
Cano said that he was "excited" to hear news of the Yankees' reuniting with Alex Rodriguez, saying that the reigning American League Most Valuable Player has helped both Cano and Cabrera with advice on and off of the field. He also spoke briefly with new manager Joe Girardi when their paths crossed in the Dominican Republic, and he is optimistic about the team's outlook.
"I think he's going to do the job," Cano said of Girardi. "You see the job he did with the Marlins [in 2006]. He's a great man. It's going to be different, but I think he's going to be a great manager."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.