Hal Steinbrenner says the Yankees are serious about keeping Robinson Cano away from next offseason’s free-agent market.

Scott Boras, an agent who almost always takes his clients into free agency, has informed the Yankees he isn’t going to ignore a lucrative offer.

Is this the ground floor of a monstrous extension for Cano or chatter that immediately drifted into the blue sky that bathed George M. Steinbrenner Field yesterday?

“We expressed to Scott what a great Yankee [Cano] has been and we hope he continues his career here for a long time to come. We indicated to him on a very preliminary basis that we were willing to consider a significant long-term contract,’’ Steinbrenner told three reporters after the team’s workout yesterday. The talks were held before camp opened. “Nothing has happened and there is nothing to report since then.’’

Boras informed the Yankees their interest in keeping Cano in The Bronx won’t be ignored.

“I told Hal, Randy [Levine] and Cash [Brian Cashman] it’s something we will have a conversation about,’’ Boras said.

Of course, it’s a long way from the team being serious about making a significant offer and the player being willing to forgo free agency at a time when there is plenty of money outside of The Bronx.

“The main purpose of the conversation was to let [Boras] know that we want Robby to continue to be a Yankee and that we appreciate all of his contributions,’’ Steinbrenner said.

If the Yankees get to the point of offering Cano a long-term deal it will be a move away from their policy of not extending contracts.

Bernie Williams and Mariano Rivera had to wait until they were able to sign elsewhere. Ditto Jorge Posada and Mike Mussina.