Yankees bid farewell to A-Rod after likely MVP opts out
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.
Olney: All About A-Rod
Alex Rodriguez couldn't be at the World Series to receive an award from Hank Aaron -- a family commitment was the stated reason -- but he managed to upstage Game 4, writes Buster Olney. Story
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.
A-Rod Worth A Lot
Alex Rodriguez has an impressive career resume, which figures only to grow. Some of his career highlights:
• Youngest ever to hit 300 HR, 400 HR, 450 HR, 500 HR
• 6 straight 40-HR seasons; 10 straight 30-HR seasons
• 3 50-HR seasons
• 2 MVPs (2003 & 2005)
In addition, he's on the short list of players who have led baseball in home runs, RBIs and runs in the same season:
|Alex Rodriguez, 2007||54||156||143|
|Roger Maris, 1961||61||142||132|
|Mickey Mantle, 1956||52||130||132|
|Johnny Mize, 1947||51||138||137|
|Ted Williams, 1942||36||137||141|
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.
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