This stretch in between the end of the ALCS and the end of the World Series is pretty slow for teams not from Denver or Boston. The Commissioner’s Office tries to keep attention focused on the Series and asks teams not to make many grand announcements before the championship trophy is doled out next week.
But the Yankees are the Yankees, and they do what they please. While Joe Girardi may now be the presumptive front-runner for the Yankees’ vacant managerial job, today’s news comes to us courtesy of Tyler Kepner. Writing a piece that’s a mix between news reporting and news analysis, Kepner delves into the chess game that is the A-Rod/Yankees negotiations. Kepner writes:
The Yankees will soon confront Alex Rodriguez’s agent, Scott Boras, and the overriding issue is which side will back down first.
Neither side accepts the other’s premise. Boras does not seem to believe that the Yankees will remove themselves from negotiations if Rodriguez opts out of his contract and becomes a free agent. The Yankees are highly dubious that Boras can find a more lucrative contract than the one they plan to offer.
The Kepner piece basically puts into print what we’ve all believed this summer: The Yankees and Boras have been conducting quasi-negotiations through the press for the past few months, and right now, it’s a dance.
We know that A-Rod claims to like being in New York. On more than one occasion this season, he expressed his love for this town and its fans despite a tumultuous 2006 relationship. When the Yankees clinched the Wild Card, it sounded like A-Rod wanted to stay in New York. He’s even planning on buying a multi-million-dollar East Side townhouse.
At the same time, the Yankees sure could use A-Rod. He seems to put a lot of fans in the seats, and his offensive production would be impossible to replace. Now, while the Yankees seem firm on the opt-out deal, it’s hard to imagine this team simply walking away from its marquee player. Like it or not, Alex Rodriguez is the current face of the Yankees, and everyone involved knows that.
From a the Boras perspective – that is, from the money side of the equation – Alex Rodriguez is due for a raise. Fault Tom hicks for this one. He outbid himself by nearly $20 million for A-Rod and then felt the need to acquiesce to Boras’ demands of an opt-out clause following each season for the last three years of the deal. After turning in a 54-home run, 156-RBI season, Alex will earn more money amazingly enough.
And that’s where the Yankees come in. A few other teams could theoretically afford to pay A-Rod more than $25 million a year. Maybe the Red Sox could (but Theo is smarter than that); maybe the Angels or Dodgers could; if an ownership group were in place, maybe the Cubs could. But in reality, these teams are unwilling to handicap themselves with this big of a contract.
The Yankees, on the other hand, due in large part to their youth movement, can afford to do so. With Clemens gone and Moose and Giambi nearly off the books entirely, the Yankees will soon have a lot of extra cash lying about. Their stars of tomorrow – Joba, Phil, IPK, Cano, etc. – aren’t making that much money right now. The new stadium promises to be a cash cow, and the YES Network has seen its value increase by leaps and bounds over the last few seasons.
With the money coming to them from the Rangers over the next few seasons and already deep pockets, the Yankees can definitely afford to keep A-Rod. So in the end, it’s simply a matter of bending to Boras’ demands. Scott Boras knows that if he loses the Yankees, he loses his leverage in negotiations, and it behooves both parties to get this deal done.
Even if Boras and the Yankees aren’t ready to take money, as they define the parameters of the negotiations, my money’s still on A-Rod anchoring third base next year and for many more to come.