"There is no doubt that he is a Hall of Fame-caliber talent," Rivera said about Cano in his new book published Tuesday. "It's just a question of whether he finds the drive that you need to get there."
"I don't think Robby burns to be the best. I think he's content to enjoy the game and help his team and go home. You don't see the red-hot passion in him that you see in most elite players," Rivera said.
Rivera's book is entitled "The Closer: My Story."
Baseball's career saves leader played nine seasons with Cano. Rivera retired after last year, and Cano left the Yankees in the offseason and signed with the Seattle Mariners.
Rivera played against Pedroia for eight years in New York's rivalry with the Red Sox.
"Nobody plays harder, gives more, wants to win more. He comes at you hard for 27 outs, every time. It's a special thing to see, a little guy like that who is willing to do whatever it takes," Rivera said. "If I have to win one game, I'd have a hard time taking anybody over Dustin Pedroia as my second baseman."
Rivera cites Roberto Alomar and former teammate Chuck Knoblauch as second baseman he'd consider alongside Cano in the debate over the best at the position. In the end, Rivera decides on Pedroia.
In the book, written with New York Daily News reporter Wayne Coffey, Rivera says there has been a decrease in atmosphere at New York home games following the move to new Yankee Stadium for the 2009 season.
"It doesn't hold noise, or home-team fervor, anywhere near the way the old place did," he said. "The old Stadium was our 10th man - a loud and frenzied cauldron of pinstriped passion, with a lot of lifers in the stands. Maybe I'm wrong, but it's hard to see that the new place can ever quite duplicate that."