- Andrew Marchand, ESPNNewYork.com
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If Alex Rodriguez opts out of his contract with the Yankees -- and as of Monday night's loss to Cleveland, it's still a big if because Rodriguez wasn't giving any hints and said he hasn't even thought about it -- his agent Scott Boras will prepare one of his trademark free agent books based on the premise that Rodriguez is the most valuable player in baseball history.
After the World Series, Rodriguez has 10 days to opt out of the final three years and $81 million of his contract. The Yankees would like to extend him before he hits the market because Texas is still paying more than $20 million of Rodriguez's contract.
Rodriguez deflected discussions of his contract in the Yankees' clubhouse Monday night.
"I don't want to talk about that right now," he told reporters. "I'm trying to digest what just happened. There will be a time and a place for that."
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said on Tuesday that if the Yankees can't extend Rodriguez's contract before he opts opts-out, Cashman will recommend not re-signing Rodriguez as a free agent. Cashman could be overruled as owner George Steinbrenner told the Bergen Record he thinks that the Yankees will re-sign Rodriguez.
Rodriguez again professed his admiration for New York after the Yankees were eliminated on Monday.
"I love New York," Rodriguez, his eyes bloodshot, said. "Again, for me, as a player, to come full circle in New York, it's the most comfortable I've felt and hopefully things work out."
Boras did not say what he would advise Rodriguez to do.
"The right of free agency has probably never been more valuable to a single player than it would be to someone like Alex Rodriguez," Boras said during a phone interview with 1050 ESPN New York conducted prior to the Yankees ALDS loss to the Indians. "The reason being is that he is a stature player, a durable player, an iconic player and he has had a historic season. Again, these are decisions that Alex has to make. He is certainly happy in New York and has enjoyed playing there."
Boras, known as one of baseball's shrewdest and most hard-nosed negotiators, tipped his hand Monday as to what negotiations would be like if Rodriguez opts out. He said he will tell prospective bidders that Rodriguez could play until he is 45, which will allow him to not only become baseball's all-time home run king, but also the all-time hits leader. If those accomplishments are within reach, Boras said he will argue that Rodriguez will be worth somewhere between a half-billion and a billion dollars over a decade to a team's regional sports network.
"One of the other things that Alex has that some of the other things that Alex has that few players have is he has network value," Boras said. "That means for a regional sports network he has an impact on in that may allow that regional sports network to increase by a half-a-billion to a billion dollars over a 10-year period because of the ratings increase that he will bring. His fan base will subscribe to that network to watch him play and they will sell more advertising. This has certainly been evidenced in New York."
It's nearly impossible to quantify the relationship an individual player has to a regional sports network. The ratings for YES -- the Yankees-owned regional sports network in the greater New York area -- have climbed with Rodriguez on the team.
According to numbers provided by YES, ratings in 2003, the year prior to Rodriguez's arrival, were 3.2 for the season. In 2004 and 2005 -- Rodriguez' first two seasons -- the ratings jumped to 4.6 and 4.5 respectively.
In 2006, YES ratings dipped to 4.3, but this season the numbers peaked at 4.7. There are countless factors for these ratings, including having marquee players. Rodriguez, of course, is not the only star on the Yankees.
Most estimates say that if YES were sold it would be worth more than a billion dollars.
Boras thinks that Rodriguez's pursuit of the home run record will make him even more valuable on TV. He also says that by playing until he's 45, Rodriguez would also end up passing Pete Rose, who has baseball's all-time hits record of 4,256.
Rodriguez currently has 518 home runs and 2,250 hits.
"The thing about Alex is he has a chance to play 12 more years and break the all-time hit record," Boras said. "It is a record that he could break. You only have to go and map out that if Alex Rodriguez were to play until he is 45 and he averaged 35 home runs he would have over 1,000 homers. It is a unique platform where he is at at such a young age. The projections are rather mind-boggling when you consider the fact even if he performed at a level that is 15 percent below what he is performing at now, he still would lift many of these records just by the mere fact that he has played this long."
In the free agent book that Boras has planned, he will detail what Rodriguez has accomplished at 32.
"You don't talk about projections," Boras said. "You really talk about what he has done. The key point to what Alex has done is that over the last 10 years is that when you are talking about home runs, RBIs and runs scored, no one in baseball history has ever done what he has done over the last 10 years. The consistency of having the 35 home runs, having the number of RBIs and runs scored."
Andrew Marchand is the Managing Editor of 1050 ESPN New York.
If Alex Rodriguez opts out of his contract with the Yankees, his agent will prepare one of his trademark free agent books based on the premise that Rodriguez is the most valuable player in baseball history.