Both teams begin to look forward
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The trade talks began in private right after the World Series.
|Hicks' e-mail Tuesday to Rangers season ticket holders|
Very shortly, it will be announced that the proposed trade of Alex Rodriguez to the Boston Red Sox will not occur. Given the importance of this issue, I wanted to "speak" to you, our valued season ticket holders, directly and prior to the announcement.
The Texas Rangers Baseball Club is committed to creating a championship-caliber team on the field. As such, we are constantly exploring ways to achieve those ends. When contemplating the potential to trade Alex, the one constant was that we would only finalize an agreement if it would make our team better faster. At the end of the negotiation process, we felt what was offered in return did not satisfy that threshold.
When Alex signed to play for the Texas Rangers, we felt privileged to have the best player in baseball as a part of our team. We believed we could build a championship-caliber team around Alex. That sentiment has not changed, nor has the commitment.
We are well on our way to accomplishing that goal. Mark Teixeira, Hank Blalock, and Michael Young, along with Alex, form arguably the best infield in baseball today. Their future together has the potential for even greater success. We continue to see accomplishments at all levels of our minor league system confirming the vision of future success that John Hart and Grady Fuson created. In addition, we plan to augment this young core with appropriate free agent activity, which should begin taking place over the next several days, and/or trades. Buck Showalter is the embodiment of a Major League manager, and the Rangers are confident in his ability to lead our young, talented group to future playoff games.
Your support as a season ticket holder is instrumental in allowing us to build these future successes. I want to personally thank you for your loyalty and assure you of our commitment to reward your investment. The Rangers look forward to seeing you often at the beautiful Ballpark in Arlington in 2004. Please join me in welcoming Alex back to The Ballpark.
Now after nearly two months of discussions, the proposed trade of $20 million-a-year players is off the table. For now, baseball's two highest-paid players are staying put: Rodriguez in Texas and outfielder Manny Ramirez in Boston.
Texas owner Tom Hicks said on Tuesday -- his deadline to resolve the issue -- that the deal was too complicated to complete. The Rangers now plan for Rodriguez to remain their shortstop next season, the fourth of his record $252 million, 10-year contract.
Hicks and Red Sox owner John Henry talked twice Tuesday, their first conversation in four days. And they finally agreed -- that they were done talking about the proposed trade.
"We both recognized there was too big a gulf to bridge," Hicks said. "Neither one of us thought it would take the public profile it did, or get as complex as it did."'
Asked if there were last-minute negotiations or compromises on the Rangers' part in an effort to complete the deal, Hicks said, "Not really."
"We mainly made sure that we communicated what each team's position was," he said. "As the decision-makers, it was important for us to talk to each other."
Rodriguez told The Fort Worth Star-Telegram in its Wednesday edition that it had been a challenging process he just wanted to end.
"Basically, I'm glad it's over, and I'm just proud to work with an owner like Tom Hicks," Rodriguez was quoted as telling the newspaper. "We went through the process hand-in-hand. Now, we're going to work together to get the Texas Rangers headed in the right direction. I'll do my part on the baseball field, and he'll do his part."
Hicks insisted that the deadline was final. He even sent a letter to season-ticket holders Tuesday pledging that next season's team would be built around Rodriguez. The Rangers have finished last in the AL West four straight seasons.
Henry, Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, president Larry Lucchino and general manager Theo Epstein issued a joint statement Tuesday saying "no further discussions regarding this transaction are planned."
Rodriguez's agent, Scott Boras, also agreed that the deal was dead and that the player's relationship with Hicks was still good.
"He learned about his owner, I think their relationship is a good one," Boras said. "In the end, there was a real question about what the level of Boston's interest level was."
The collapse of the deal was fine with new Boston manager Terry Francona.
"I've been looking forward to Manny and Nomar being with us, so nothing has changed for me," he said.
Rodriguez and Ramirez agreed to their big contracts on the same day, three years ago during the winter meetings in Dallas. To gauge if there was interest in Ramirez, Boston placed him on irrevocable waivers following the World Series, but he went unclaimed.
"Manny is focused on continuing his career with the Red Sox," said his agent, Jeff Moorad. "I have said all along that Manny would be happy in either instance."
Ramirez has five years and $97.5 million left on his $160 million, eight-year deal.
During negotiations last week, the players' association said the final seven years and $179 million left on Rodriguez's agreement could be restructured but not reduced. A proposal by the Red Sox to cut $28 million to $30 million was rejected.
The players' association said it would approve a change that would lower the contract by $12 million to $13 million in exchange for Rodriguez getting the right to use Boston's logo and trademarks in marketing deals. In addition, he'd be able to become a free agent after the 2005 season.
But Lucchino proclaimed the trade "dead," blaming the union for not approving the steeper reduction.
Reliever Jay Powell is glad Rodriguez is staying in Texas.
"He's one of the most respected guys in the clubhouse, and we were hoping he would stick around," Powell said. "I don't know anybody in the clubhouse that wants to see Alex leave."
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press
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