In a break from their customary policy, the New York Yankees have discussed the possibility of a contract extension with second baseman Robinson Cano, who will be a free agent after this season.

"There's been a conversation or two," Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said Friday at the Yankees' minor league complex in Tampa, Fla. "We'll get into that and we'll talk about that at a later date. But he's been a great Yankee, and [we] hope he's here his entire career."

Steinbrenner did not specify who was involved in the conversations, but a source with knowledge of the negotiations told that Steinbrenner has spoken with Cano's agent, Scott Boras, about the possibility of avoiding having to bid for Cano on the open market next winter.

"It's very unusual," said the source, who requested anonymity. "Not only is it a departure for the Yankees, but to have an owner comment publicly on how much he wants a player, it's pretty obvious they're going to try hard to hold on to Cano."

As a matter of policy, the Yankees generally refuse to discuss extending existing contracts with players, managers or the general manager. One of the few times they made an exception -- GM Brian Cashman offered to discuss a contract extension with Alex Rodriguez during the 2007 season -- the player rejected the overture. A-Rod opted out of his deal that fall and wound up signing a new 10-year, $275 million contract with another $30 million in incentive bonuses.