So here we are. The New York Yankees have settled on a manager and say that they are through with Alex Rodriguez, or rather, that A-Rod is through with them.
While the Yankees can’t really be criticized for choosing Joe Girardi over Don Mattingly — unless you still want to fight the good fight for Joe Torre, then you can criticize them all you want — it’s hard to believe that this A-Rod thing is really over.
The Yankees have said for a few months that they wouldn’t negotiate with Rodriguez if he chose to opt out of his 10-year, $252 million contract. As most of us know, the reason the Yanks made this threat was because they didn’t want to lose the $31 million subsidy the Texas Rangers have been paying the Yankees since the Evil Empire took A-Rod off their hands four years ago.
It’s hard to argue with A-Rod for opting out and becoming a free agent (the way he did it, with the announcement conveniently leaking out in the middle of Game 4 of the World Series, is another matter altogether). He is days away from winning his second MVP award in four years and is easily the best hitter in the game. He — and his agent, Scott Boras — are going to command a contract that will break all records for all professional sports contracts.
But is he truly done with the Yankees? Maybe.
It’s hard to believe that Boras the Super Agent would allow his biggest client to opt out of certain money without even hearing the Yankees’ offer if he didn’t already have a good idea of which team would step up and with how much.
So who will it be? Where will A-Rod go? Good question. Here are a few possibilities:
1). The New York Mets
If A-Rod just wants to get out of New York, he won’t land in Queens. But the Mets have the deep pockets and infield flexibility. Current third baseman and annual MVP threat David Wright said in spring training this year that he would move to second base to accommodate A-Rod, and with Carlos Delgado clearly on his last legs, Wright could potentially make a permanent move to first base, where some scouts have suggested he’d be better anyway.
2). Detroit Tigers
Few ever bring the Tigers up, but owner Mike Illitch is cozy with Boras. Illitch overpaid for Boras clients Ivan Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez, and both have worked out beautifully for the Tigers. This may not be the market A-Rod wants, but here’s the thing: When you have Scott Boras for your agent, you go where the most money is. Why else would A-Rod have signed with Texas in the first place?
3). Los Angeles Angels
Owner Artie Morena has gone on the record several times saying he’d never invest so much money in one player, that it just doesn’t jive with his business model.
Whatever. The Angels will be in play because they have stars and young, cheap players around them to absorb the overall cost. The Angels have waited two years now for hot-shot prospect Brandon Wood to pan out, and it hasn’t happened. The opening is there at third.
4). Chicago Cubs
If only they had an owner.
But the Cubs don’t, and after their $300 million spending spree with back-loaded contracts, it’s highly unlikely GM Jim Hendry would plop another $340 million and 10 years on the future owner’s desk.
And, with Aramis Ramirez around at third, the thinking is that A-Rod would move back to shortstop and play for his buddy, Lou Piniella. Ain’t happening. Not because of Uncle Lou, but because A-Rod, having bulked up over the last four years, can’t play short anymore.
5). Boston Red Sox
They had him for about a minute until the union put the kibosh on a deal that would have had A-Rod forfeiting some of the money in his contract.
While the Sox seem to enjoy poking fun at A-Rod and his postseason failures, they have the money (remember, this was the team that paid $51 million just to talk to a guy), they can be reckless with said money (Julio Lugo, J.D. Drew, Matt Clement) and they will likely have an opening at third with Mike Lowell — fresh off a World Series MVP and two solid years — ready to be a free agent.
Wouldn’t that be something? A-Rod in Boston? Playing for the World Champion Red Sox?
6). New York Yankees
I just don’t think this is over yet. This is how you negotiate. You wait until the last minute and bang it out.
Boras can shop A-Rod around, get a figure and come back to the Yanks and see what happens. Surely, with Wilson Betemit penciled in at third and Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera unsigned, the Yanks would have to at least listen to what Boras has to say.
And then, just maybe, they would panic, like they probably did with Roger Clemens.
In about two months and 17 ESPN specials, we should have an answer.