Now that we have a nifty little Spring Training countdown in place of what would have been an idle Joba Watch, let’s start the Hot Stove League off with a bang. I’d like to revisit the Jack Curry article on Scott Boras Or rather, let’s revisit what the article did not say.
In the piece, Curry talks at length about Scott Boras’ comments today that lay out in no uncertain terms his desire to see his number one client Alex Rodriguez opt out of his Yankee contract and head to free agency. Fine. That’s not news. What’s not in the article is the news.
In story after story yesterday, the word from Boras is, well, rather ridiculous. He feels A-Rod, 32 now, could and wants to play until he is 45; could break Pete Rose’s all-time hits record; could hit 1000 HR; could draw in $1 billion in revenue for a team with its own cable network; and should earn $33 million a year.
If all of those things happen, baseball should just stop because you would never ever see a player of that caliber again. But hyperbole aside, wading through Boras’ statements reveals the start of a negotiation. First, the age is important. Alex Rodriguez is 32 now, and his current contract runs out when he’s 35. He wants a ten-year contract extension.
Now, the money. In an ideal world, a team — the Yankees with their deep pockets and, conveniently enough, their own cable network already estimated to be worth a billion dollars — would hear out Boras and say, “Ok, Mr. Rodriguez. Here’s your ten-year, $330-million contract, guaranteeing your presence in pinstripes until you turn 45.”
But negotiations don’t work this way. The Yankees will offer a counterproposal, and they have a very firm and very public starting point from Boras. A counteroffer from the Yanks would probably be for seven years and $210 million or $30 million a year. A-Rod would be paid exceedingly well once he hits his early 40s, and the Yanks would keep him in pinstripes during what promises to be his next few very productive seasons.
There’s a catch. With A-Rod and the Yankees, there’s always a catch. Should the Yankees sink $30 million a season into one player? Should they be ready and willing to fork over $30 million for A-Rod to play his age 40, age 41 and age 42 seasons in the Bronx? That is a very, very tough call.
This year, Jason Giambi has been the poster child for overpaid, aging sluggers. Now, Alex Rodriguez, one of those genetic freaks who are amazingly healthy and great at baseball, doesn’t come with the needle-induced health problems of Jason Giambi. But only one baseball player has ever played well enough past 40 to deserve anywhere close to $30 million a year, and that person — Barry Bonds — is not saint.
So now, the fun begins for Brian Cashman. They’ll have to debate and analyze the numbers. They’ll have to look at budget projections, attendance numbers and TV ratings in an effort to make sense of a single player out of 25 making $30 million a year. The wild card in all of this is that robust salary. I don’t think any other team can come close to affording it while still putting a half-way decent team on the field, but I could be wrong. I certainly don’t envy Brian Cashman and the Yankees baseball people as they try to make sense of this. Good luck, folks. I have no answer to this A-Rod question right now.