Underhanded deal

It's bad enough A-Rod wants Nomar Garciaparra's job, but soliciting the union's help is just plain wrong.

Originally Published: December 18, 2003
By Jim Caple | ESPN.com

We're told that a holdup in the Alex Rodriguez deal is reworking his elaborate contract in a way that keeps the players union happy with the total financial compensation. But if you're the union, shouldn't you be a little more concerned about your most prominent member openly negotiating for another member's job while the latter is involved in his own contract negotiations?

Rodriguez
Rodriguez

Hey Theo -- Don't worry about Nomar's ridiculous contract demands. He's not worth it. Trade for me and I'll do his job much better.

That's what this deal comes down to, one player trying to steal another player's job. Which would be all right, if both played for the same team (this happens all the time -- it's called competition) or if both were unsigned and seeking a job. But this is a case where both players are under contract with different teams and one player is undermining the other's negotiating leverage.

I can only assume this isn't tampering because the commissioner's office hasn't complained and I always trust the commissioner's office. But it sure smells funny.

Rodriguez may be the best player in the league but this is a low-down, cruddy thing to do. Pal, if you didn't want to play with a last-place team, you shouldn't have signed with a last-place team.

This deal is a bad one from several angles.

Nomar Garciaparra is a Boston icon who hit .301 with 28 home runs, 120 runs and 105 RBI last year. He's a career .323 hitter (highest average for a right-handed hitter since Joe DiMaggio). He's signed through next season. He wants to come back so badly that he called a Boston talk show from his honeymoon in Hawaii to make his feelings public. So naturally, the Red Sox want to trade him away and replace him with someone who will cost them $8 million to $10 million a year more.

Red Sox GM Theo Epstein said Boston's first choice was to sign Nomar to a deal that made sense for both sides. If so, why alienate him by openly negotiating for a rival player?

(And just an aside here, but what's up with Nomar calling talk radio from his honeymoon? Mia had to love that.

Nomar Garciaparra
AP PhotoNomar isn't expecting any trouble with Kevin Millar, just dinner.

Mia: Isn't this great, sweetie? Walking along the Hawaiian sands under a full moon, a cool Pacific wave washing over our ankles, tiki torches burning along the beach, the smell of jasmine in the air and a steel guitar playing "It's a Wonderful World'' -- it doesn't get any better than this. I'm so happy that I'm going to spend the rest of my life with you.

Nomar: What was that, honey? I'm on hold with the Mad Dog.)

Texas, meanwhile, has realized that giving a shortstop -- even the game's best shortstop -- $25 million a year for 10 years doesn't help you one bit if you get beat 10-7 every night because you still don't have any pitching. The Rangers are so desperate to get rid of A-Rod's contract, that they'll trade him to Boston for Manny Ramirez, who is making $20 million a year and is exactly what the Rangers don't need  another high-priced slugger who can't field.

Manny is a productive hitter but he's a terrible outfielder who lacks motivation, openly campaigns to play with the Yankees and has his own albatross of a contract. How does trading for him make the Rangers better? Say what you want about A-Rod, but at least he'll always give you his best and play solid defense at a key position for that additional $5 million on his contract.

Both teams think this deal will make each better but all they're really doing is just swapping one bad, bloated contract for another.

Meanwhile, everyone's favorite agent, Scott Boras, explains A-Rod's reasoning behind wanting to be traded from the organization he was going to single-handedly turn around just a couple winters ago. "You want your clients happy and you want them achieving their goals,'' Boras told reporters. "One of his goals is to win.''

Oh, now A-Rod figures that out.

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Jim Caple | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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