A-Rod's agent hints at opt out
Third baseman may seek long-term deal in free agency
NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez's agent hinted he will advise the Yankees third baseman to opt out of the final three years of his contract, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.
Already the probable American League MVP, Rodriguez has until 10 days after the World Series to trigger a clause that could make him the most valuable personality on the free agent market this offseason.
"Alex wants to be in one uniform for a long, long time, if not to the end of his career," his agent, Scott Boras, told the AP. "I think Alex could play very reasonably until he's 45. So you're talking about a situation where we want this guy to be identified with one franchise and one uniform for a very, very long time."
Rodriguez, 32, is coming off a season of great individual achievements, but saw his Yankees bounced by the Indians in a four-game AL Division Series. Using the opt-out clause -- which was negotiated into Rodriguez's original 10-year, $252 million contract signed with the Texas Rangers before the 2001 season -- will likely end Rodriguez's stay in New York.
General manager Brian Cashman has insisted that the club will not pursue Rodriguez, the Major League leader in home runs, RBIs and runs scored this season, on the open market.
Rodriguez is set to earn $24 million annually from the Yankees, but part of that is offset by the approximately $21 million the Rangers still owe as part of a Feb. 16, 2004 trade that brought Rodriguez to New York for Alfonso Soriano and Joaquin Arias. Cashman said any alteration of that deal would make the contract terms unworkable.
"That would be my strong recommendation," Cashman said. "I guess there's more people involved in that process, but I just think that would be sound practice. Hopefully, you have a chance to retain the player prior to that date. After that date, it doesn't make as much sense -- not because we can't afford it -- but because it becomes a much different economic animal."
Rodriguez batted .314 with 54 home runs and 156 RBIs for New York in 2007, his fourth season with the Yankees. The heart of the club's offense through early struggles, Rodriguez led the Major Leagues with a .645 slugging percentage and one RBI per 3.7 at-bats. He was 4-for-15 (.267) with one home run in New York's ALDS loss to Cleveland.
Rodriguez, the youngest player to hit 500 home runs, will begin the 2008 campaign with 518 career round-trippers. Boras told the AP that Rodriguez's likely pursuit of Barry Bonds' all-time home run record will figure into the financial terms for any club pursuing A-Rod as a free agent.
"That team is going to be associated with having a player in its organization that has this history, this value," Boras said, "and they're going to be able to market that and go through the varying chases and levels of passing players in his home run pursuits."
Speaking at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, Cashman said that the Yankees have not yet contacted Boras regarding an opening in negotiations. The Yankees are expected to present Boras and Rodriguez with an extension offer to keep the slugger in pinstripes.
It is possible that Rodriguez could decide that he wishes to remain with the Yankees, something he has stated he would be amenable to on numerous occasions.
"This feels like home," Rodriguez said on Sept. 26, the date the Yankees clinched their 13th consecutive playoff berth. "It's hard to believe that I played for another two organizations. So much has happened to me here -- adversity, some success -- that I feel like anything but New York feels kind of weird for me now.
"One thing about New York -- the tough times are tougher than anywhere. But the special times are as special as any. I love New York."
Yankees first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, a close friend and offseason workout partner, said that Rodriguez had kept him privy to internal discussions when A-Rod negotiated his landmark deal in 2001.
This time, Mientkiewicz has been left guessing, like most everyone else.
"This, we haven't spoken two words about this," Mientkiewicz said. "There are some things we talk too much about and some things we don't talk at all about. That's one of the things we don't talk at all about."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.