Not that there’s anything wrong with that

It is about the money.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But let’s not kid ourselves.

Alex Rodriguez is due to make $81 million from the New York Yankees (with some aid from the ever generous Tom Hicks) from 2008-2010. The Bronx Bombers have some intriguing young pitchers in Joba Chamberlain and Phillip Hughes. They also have Chien-Ming Wang. The defense up the middle has a couple of rising stars in Melky Cabrera and Robinson Cano. They play in the biggest market on a team that shoots for the big prize on an annual basis.

Does he want to play on a winning team? The Yankees have been in the postseason every year since the strike, and after a 45-23 surge are within a heartbeat of the wild card lead. As mentioned already, the pinstriped goal isn’t a .500 record or seeing some prospects take the next step. It’s the same thing every year: the World Series or bust.

So why opt out?

It’s like this: How many of you buy lottery tickets on a regular basis?


Do you do it for the thrill of anticipation; to help fund some worthy goal; you like the feeling of throwing away of money for the heck of it?

Of course not: You do it for the money. Is there any other reason for doing so? If you stated any other reason, most likely you’d get expressions from people that would make you wonder if your fly was down.

Why would A-Rod opt out? Simple, he feels he can earn more money if he does so. This isn’t a unilateral decision by his agent Scott Boras. We’re not going to read a headline in the New York Post entitled:

Rodriguez “stunned and dismayed” to learn
that Scott Boras has made him a free agent.

The thing is, we’re hearing and going to hear the same things from Rodriguez that we did in 2000: He’s happy with the Yankees, he’s focused on helping the Yankees win the World Series this year and beyond, he’s not going to think contract during the regular season etc.

But he’ll probably opt out anyway.

Remember these?

  • “I’ve always said to everybody that Seattle is my first choice.”
  • “But if you tell me, am I willing to take `X’ amount less and win a championship, absolutely. I would defer money, I would take a lot less money. Trust me, there’s no one that wants a ring in a worse way than I do.”
  • “I wanted to be a Met. I’ve always wanted to be a Met, I’ve been a Met fan since I was a kid. And I would’ve played there for less money and less years and they know that.”

By some odd coincidence, he signed with the Texas Rangers, who offered the most money. Rodriguez, in his defense, said that he joined the Rangers because of the talent in the system (which was impressive, it should be noted). Unfortunately when he requested a trade from the Rangers he stated: “I would have never gone to Texas if they had told me, ‘Alex, it’s going to be you and 24 kids.’ Never. For no amount of money.”

The situation is oddly familiar: Rodriguez playing a 90-win team with a promising future, saying that given his druthers he’d like to stay put but will test the market for the heck of it; while at the same time his agent is seeding the media with his client’s expectations. In 2000, it was 10 years/$250 (or so) million. This time, the minimum target appears to be six years at about $30 million per.

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

The strategy worked pretty well last time. So well in fact that it landed the duo the largest contract in sports history up to that time. There’s no reason to change the script—especially considering the people they do business with on a regular basis.

The Yankees may have the inside track due to the Rangers’ subsidy of A-Rod’s deal. However if he opts out, the subsidy is gone and the Yankees have no advantage. If they wish to extend the current deal and retain the Rangers’ money, what they have to do (according to a inside source with knowledge of the contract) is simply this: keep the current deal in place and sign Rodriguez to a three or four year deal beginning in 2011 and hope the commissioner’s office OKs it.

Since Boras is looking for at least $30 million a year for the third baseman, Boras will most likely insist that the Yankees bring years 2008-2010 up to over $30 million and an extra year be added to the deal. Let’s assume that Boras tells the Yanks that for Rodriguez to waive the opt out and not test the market it’s going to take $32 million a year over seven years (2008-2014).

That makes it a de facto seven-year, $224 million package.

Since the current contract remains in place and the Yankees simply sign A-Rod to a four-year deal beginning in 2011, it means the Yankees have to pay $143,000,000 from 2011-2014 or $35,750,000 a year to bring all seven years up to the $32 million level and pray Bud Selig doesn’t have a Depends moment.

The question is this: Are the Yankees willing to pay almost $36 million a year for the future Hall-of-Famer’s post-35 year old career? That’s the question facing the Yankees. Yes, the deal with the Rangers gives the Bombers a leg up, however it is only in place if A-Rod doesn’t opt out. The Yanks have to make it worth Boras/A-Rod’s while not to; quite frankly, I doubt they care that New York loses the subsidy if Rodriguez opts out; they likely are of the opinion that it isn’t their problem.

What it does, however, is give the duo additional leverage in dealing with the Yankees. If they want 1) A-Rod to waive his right to test the market and 2) keep the Rangers’ money, it’s going to cost them a premium. Boras won’t be shy in reminding Brian Cashman and George Steinbrenner that it may well be cheaper to extend their third sacker than to have him opt out and best the highest bid.

Remember the Magglio Ordonez contract with Detroit? Boras told the Tigers in no uncertain terms that if they wanted the oft-injured slugger it was going to cost them big time; it will be no different with the Yankees. If you want A-Rod and the Rangers money, it’ll cost you (at least) an extra year plus bringing up the final three years of the current deal up to the standard of any subsequent years.

Bottom line: A-Rod’s opt out will be ridiculously expensive for any team, including the Yankees. Regardless of what Rodriguez will do at the end of 2007 the Yankees, due to their money, have to be considered front runners. Having said this, the team that does land Rodriguez will come to regret it. In 2000 the Rangers paid $252 million for a player just coming into his best years. The winner of the A-Lottery will likely be paying around $200 million for the Hall of Famer’s decline phase.

This is what is known as the winner’s curse.

The Whine Cellar

The Jays might be leading the wild card race if John Gibbons realized that there are worse things than “productive outs.”

The Last Word

One person that I often bounce ideas off of and get feedback from is my older brother Rob. I don’t think I would have cut it as a writer without his input (so blame him). He is as valuable a resource in all things baseball and hockey (heck, pretty much any sport—the man is a freakin’ sports encyclopedia) and is nothing short of amazing in his ability to retain and analyze information.

Even when I disagree with him, I always listen closely to what he is saying. We’ve debated about Barry Bonds and the impact of the “steroid era” many times. He sent me this after Bonds hit No. 755 and I thought it worth passing along even though we’ve aren’t sympatico with all of it. It’s too good not so share:

So 755 has been breached. I fondly remember Monday April 8th 1974 watching Hank Aaron hit number 715 on Channel 3 from Syracuse. The picture was fuzzy, but I had the ten year old excitement when he hit the homer off Al Downing in the fourth inning. I truly felt I was witnessing Sports History live.

Move ahead to Saturday August 4th 2007, Bonds number 755 was broadcast on Channel 22 Rogers Sportsnet on HD Cable with a clear concise picture. (Not that I was watching anyway.) With my 44 year old “excitement” (yaaaawn) as Bonds hit number 755 against Clay Hensley of the San Diego Padres in the second inning, I truly felt I missed Sports History in the 21st Century.

This Century has been marked by cheaters prospering, (Tour de Farce). A professional sports league rocked by revelations that one of its officials fixed results of its games and knew about it in January and continued to let him referee important playoff games so as not to interfere with a criminal investigation.

The NHL refusing to allow a sale of a franchise to a Canadian billionaire who offered 248 million dollars for the Nashville (??) Predators, instead putting pressure on owner Craig Leipold to accept a 190 million dollars from “local” investors. One of the local investors “Boots” wanted to buy the team four months ago and move them to Kansas City. How long till they get there is a moot point (over/under is three years). All to prevent a team that is losing 16 million dollars a year from moving to Southern Ontario where 15,000 season tickets were already sold in 3 days. What person would take an offer of 58 million dollars less to sell an asset. I wonder what compensation Gary Butthead has offered to take a lesser offer. I bet we will soon find out though.

Now a Russian tennis star(!!) (#3 ranked in the world) it has been revealed quit a match where the betting was heavily for his opponent (ranked 98th). An acquaintance walked away with 7 million dollars in winnings from this bet. The NFL (National Felons League) is full of a criminal element that is beyond belief. Its poster boy for the 21st Century has been charged with a crime of such brutality to animals that will make it impossible for him to show his face in public for a long time.

The “Sinsin”atti Bungles have had eleven players arrested in the off-season for various crimes ranging from DUI to wife abuse. Think of the illustrious names of this Century…Michael Vick…Kobe Bryant…Tim Donaghy…Gary Bettman…Adam (Pacman) Jones…Todd Bertuzzi….Mark McGwire…Sammy Sosa…Rafael Palmeiro…Terrell Owens….Bud Selig….Randy Moss…Alex Rodriguez (I could go on but my fingers hurt)…Welcome to this club Barry Bonds…you are a truly deserving member of this club. May you get all that you deserve. You have earned the title of the greatest of the 21st Century athlete. Say it ain’t so.

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