(Long Island, NY) The Yankees may have lost all the respect they almost earned for once. When third baseman Alex Rodriguez opted out of his enormous contract during Game 4 of the World Series, the front office of the Bronx Bombers put their collective feet down and said that enough was enough. It seemed to be a decision that had to be made, regardless if they were a better team with him. What seemed to be an irreparable relationship that was headed for divorce court just made a detour at a marriage counselor.
Looking for a raise from $25.2 million a year to a repulsive $30 to $35 million, A-Rod walked away from his $252 million, 10-year free agent deal he signed with the equally oblivious Texas Rangers in 2001. The Yankees did not want to lose the Rangers’ $21 million pay-off throughout the final three years of the original deal and publicly stated that they were not going to negotiate with Rodriguez if he decided to opt out, which was a stipulation put into the contract.
The Yankees were set to sit down and talk with Rodriguez and his agent, Scott Boras, on an extension, but the slugger and Boras decided to use the opt-out clause before giving the Bombers a chance to make their offer, even ignoring requests from the team for a face-to-face meeting. This apparently infuriated Hank Steinbrenner, theson of George and main decision-maker since the elder Boss has taken a back seat of late.
On October 29, Hank Steinbrenner made a statement that included, “If a player doesn’t want us, we don’t want them. That chapter is closed.” But on Wednesday, he apparently had a change of heart after Rodriguez initiated a meeting in Tampa. Following a session in the Sunshine state, Hank Steinbrenner told reporters, “At this point it appears he’s (Rodriguez) willing to make sacrifices to be a Yankee.”
Some of those sacrifices were leaving Boras out of the room during the meeting and apparent subsequent negotiations, and a lowering of Rodriguez’s earlier demands of a 10-year, $350 million contract. The deal being discussed is for the same length, but a paltry $275 million.
Rodriguez did not leave his fans twisting in the wind and released a statement on his website that read as if he was doing the Yankees a favor by meeting with them. “Prior to entering into serious negotiations with other clubs…,” “We know there are other opportunities for us…,” “I reached out to the Yankees through mutual
friends…” Through the goodness of his heart, A-Rod somehow pulled himself to have this third party call the people that are drowning him in lettuce, and may do so even more for the next decade.
The troubling thing is that if there were so many other clubs out there in his price range that he was about to enter ‘serious negotiations’ with, why is he willing to accept a pauper’s pittance from the Yankees that is $75 million less than what he was looking for? Is a $300,000 annual raise enough for him? How will he deal with the consequences and possible fallout from all of these shenanigans?
Coming off an MVP-caliber year where he batted .314 and hit 54 home runs and drove in 156 runs, why would he not shop himself around for a bigger payday? The reason may be that he and his super-agent have even out priced themselves. There are only a handful of teams that can even think of spending that kind of money for one player and the vibes may have been cool. Not wanting to lose a good thing he already had, Rodriguez may have erased a mistake by approaching the Yankees with hat in hand.
How fitting would it have been if he was sitting out there not willing to go below his demands and no one was biting? Unfortunately, the Steinbrenners seem to be going back on their word and all of us paying our bills from check to check will have to wait for redemption.