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Yankees bid farewell to A-Rod after likely MVP opts out

10/30/2007 - MLB Alex Rodriguez New York Yankees + more

DENVER -- Alex Rodriguez opted out of his $252 million,
10-year contract with the Yankees on Sunday in what appears to be
the end of his tumultuous career with New York.

Rodriguez's decision, announced by agent Scott Boras as the
rival Boston Red Sox completed their World Series sweep of
Colorado and later confirmed by Hank Steinbrenner, makes the third baseman eligible to become a free agent.

Boras said he attempted to notify Yankees general manager Brian
Cashman of the decision but couldn't reach him, so he left a voice
mail.

"He was traveling and I was traveling," Boras said.

Rodriguez loses the final $72 million in guaranteed salary in
the record contract, which he signed with Texas before the 2001
season. The Yankees lose $21.3 million in remaining payments from
the Rangers, a subsidy agreed to at the time of his 2004 trade. New
York has said it would not attempt to re-sign A-Rod if he opted
out.


Upon hearing the news, Steinbrenner -- now the figurehead of the Yankees' baseball operations -- sent a scathing message Rodriguez's way.

"It's clear he didn't want to be a Yankee," Steinbrenner told the New York Daily News. "He doesn't understand the privilege of being a Yankee on a team where the owners are willing to pay $200 million to put a winning product on the field.

"I don't want anybody on my team that doesn't want to be a Yankee."

Steinbrenner also answered the question of whether there's any chance he could change his mind. "We're not going to back down," he said. "It's goodbye."

Boras said during a telephone interview that Rodriguez made his
choice because he was uncertain whether Mariano Rivera,
Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte would return to the Yankees. Boras said it
became clear that the others wouldn't make a decision by
Rodriguez's deadline to opt out -- 10 days after the World Series.

"Alex's decision was one based on not knowing what his closer,
his catcher and one of his statured pitchers was going to do,"
Boras said. "He really didn't want to make any decisions until he
knew what they were doing."

Cashman did not respond to messages seeking comment.


Steinbrenner told the Daily News that both he and his brother, Hal, personally placed phone calls to Rodriguez expressing their desire to keep him with the team. Hank Steinbrenner said neither call was returned.

A-Rod, likely to win his third AL MVP award next month, made his
decision before the Yankees announced a replacement for departed
manager Joe Torre. Broadcaster Joe Girardi and bench coach Don
Mattingly were the top contenders, and the team also interviewed
first-base coach Tony Pena.

A Yankees official and an agent who deals regularly with the
team said it appears Cashman was leaning toward recommending
Girardi. The pair spoke on condition of anonymity because no
decision has been announced.

Texas turns out to be the biggest winner, saving the remaining
money it would have had to pay New York as part of the 2004 trade.
Boras said the Rangers are still responsible for $3 million in
annual deferred money A-Rod is owed in the next three years under
the contract.

"We're going to wait until we hear officially, but obviously it
would be welcome news on our end," Rangers general manager Jon
Daniels said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

Rodriguez hit .314 this year and led the majors with 54 homers
and 156 RBIs. He was announced as a winner of a Hank Aaron award for
offensive achievement before Game 4 but wasn't on hand to receive
it. Boras said Rodriguez had a family commitment.

New York was preparing to offer Rodriguez a four- or five-year
extension worth between $25 million and $30 million annually and
had hoped to meet with A-Rod to present the offer.

"We didn't want to enter in a discussion of the economic
parameters until we knew the status of players because that was
central to Alex's decision," Boras said.

Rodriguez's decision was first reported by SI.com.

Another Boras client, J.D. Drew, opted out of his contract with
the Los Angeles Dodgers following the 2006 season and signed a more
lucrative deal with the Red Sox. Boras and the Red Sox
denied they spoke before Drew became a free agent.

The Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Angels and even
the New York Mets could be possible destinations for Rodriguez.
Teams have declined to comment, citing tampering rules that prevent
them from discussing players who aren't free agents.

"That's for another time," Red Sox president Larry Lucchino
said.

Red Sox fans behind the third-base dugout at Coors Field chanted
"Don't sign A-Rod!" after Boston's victory.

"He did it for a reason. I wish him the best," David Ortiz
said. "Man, I never would walk away from $150 million."

While the Yankees said they would be done with Rodriguez if he
opted out, Boras said he remains willing to talk with them.

"The lines of communication for us are open," he said. "Our
position is that we have told New York all along that we will
continue discussions with them. Alex enjoyed playing in New York.
He played well there. He was comfortable there."

But now it appears he will leave, with the Yankees joining the
Seattle Mariners and Texas as former teams for a player who
outperformed all others during the regular season but flopped
regularly in the postseason.

A-Rod went 4-for-15 (.267) with one RBI against in the Yankees'
first-round playoff loss to Cleveland and is in an 8-for-59 (.136)
postseason funk dating to 2004. Even worse has been his postseason
hitting in the clutch. He is hitless in his past 18 playoff at-bats
with runners in scoring position.

New York, entering its first season with a new manager since
Torre took over in 1996, will have to find offense to replace
Rodriguez's RBI, a prospect that should be daunting for the new
manager, whoever it is.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.