Anyway, there’s been a lot of talk in around Yankeeland about what the Bombers could have done differently to retain the services of Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez. While Scott Boras claimed $350 million would have done the trick, I’m a bit skeptical. Let me instead offer you two A-Rod conspiracy theories.
1. Alex Rodriguez was never going to stay in New York
As much as Yankees fans would hate to admit it, it’s very possible that A-Rod simply wanted out of New York, and no amount of money or promises from Tampa could have changed a thing. A-Rod, not the most thick-skinned guy around, was, by many accounts, simply tired of New York City. Hew as tired of the tabloids tracking his every move; he was tired of the fans putting him under a microscope and expecting perfection. He was tired of shouldering the blame for postseason failures.
In fact, A-Rod disliked New York so much that he was willing to forego $81 million in guaranteed money over three years as well as $150 million more over the following five years. Again, I’m going to turn to Ben McGrath’s New Yorker article.
McGrath ends the article with a pregnant quote from Boras:
“Academically, and theoretically, they could make an offer,” Boras said as the Steinbrenner claimants prepared to hash out the Yankees’ future. Then, speaking of Rodriguez, he switched to the past tense: “He enjoyed playing in New York.”
McGrath reported and wrote this article before A-Rod officially opted out, but it sounds like Boras – and note that it’s Boras – has already made up his mind. A-Rod wasn’t coming back to New York, and nothing the Yankees could do would change that reality. If this is the case, A-Rod, arbitration offer or not, won’t be back in the Bronx. Time to move on.
2. Scott Boras strong-armed A-Rod into opting out
This theory requires a little bit of creativity, but it’s not as far-fetched as you might think.
For two weeks after the Yankees lost to the Indians, A-Rod and Cynthia spent their time at Chez Boras in Newport Beach. There, Boras and A-Rod, according to reports, discussed their strategy. We will never know what was said behind those closed doors, but is it outlandish to think that Boras really pushed A-Rod to opt out?
We know that agents work for their players and not the other way around. But when it comes to Scott Boras and Alex Rodriguez, you’re talking about two men who have the chance to radically alter the baseball business landscape. Boras would so very desperately want A-Rod to opt out, and A-Rod could be swayed by the arguments put forth by Boras. It worked with Tom Hicks, a successful businessman; why wouldn’t Boras’ negotiating tactics work on his own clients?
So A-Rod opts out via text message, and we never hear from him at all. No press conference from A-Rod; no phone call; no nothing. He doesn’t call Robinson Cano, one of his closest friends on the team, and he doesn’t return Johnny Damon’s calls either.
Odd behavior, no?
Maybe A-Rod isn’t getting back to these people because he feels extremely guilty about what happened. He spent the summer proclaiming New York his home and really seemed to embrace the town and the team by the time September rolls around. And then, much like J.D. Drew did in Los Angeles, A-Rod, in a surprising move, jets.
Maybe Alex is ruing his decision. Maybe he can’t stand facing his teammates and doesn’t want to think about it. Maybe can’t stand how he has nearly replaced Barry Bonds as Baseball Public Enemy Number One in the eyes of the press. Murray Chass today posited that Boras could be regretting opting out, but what if that regret really stems from A-Rod? Maybe he thinks he should have heard out the Yankees after all. It’s a real possibility.
So how, if scenario two is true, does this soap opera play out? Well, A-Rod could accept arbitration and attempt to negotiate with the Yanks that way. He could fire Boras and play off opting out as a mistake. To return to the Yanks, he’d have to take at least a three-year pay cut, but I’m sure the Yanks could be convinced to re-sign the best free agent third baseman out there.
Maybe this is all just idle speculation. Maybe Boras and A-Rod will get their huge deal from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim or the Flushing Mets of New York. But it’s certainly food for thought, and it’s impossible to envision a path for A-Rod, universally scorned, to emerge from this mess triumphant.