The one who almost got away

Rangers' hockey game in Yankee Stadium closer to reality
Joba, Mo and IPK go tonight

Jon Heyman at Sports Illustrated relays the story of how A-Rod almost wasn’t a Yankee anymore. It’s a nice look back on a story that was pretty much lost in the rest of the off-season hoopla. Once the Santana derby took front page, we all kind of swept A-Rod under the rug. Which is nice, since he was taking the brunt of it from the fans for the few weeks in which this situation was up in the air.

According to Heyman, the Angels, Dodgers, Mets, Red Sox, Tigers, and Giants were in on A-Rod, whether explicitly or implicitly. Further, A-Rod planned to meet with all of them, if for no other reason than to increase his leverage. However, it appears his desire to remain in the Bronx remained at the forefront of his mind.

So why did he opt out?

Rodriguez and Boras had believed that the Yankees needed to see, 1) that A-Rod was willing to leave, a serious concern since Boras thought A-Rod tipped his hand too much throughout his glorious 2007 season, and, 2) that others were willing to pay much more. Boras always believed the Yankees would get back in and pay the market rate, which he felt was 10 years for at least $300 million, for the three-time MVP with as much marquee power as home-run power — but only after he opted out and gave them a reason to.

And so we had the opt-out situation, in which many of us waved goodbye to A-Rod, even though it wasn’t our ~$21 million he had blown. The Yankees had made it pretty clear that he wouldn’t be welcome back if he opted out.

Boras felt the Yankees needed to be shocked. And while the opt-out did that, it apparently also shocked A-Rod. Rodriguez understood he’d be opting out, but he didn’t plan on the quick negative reaction by fans, media, and especially by the Yankees, including new boss Hank Steinbrenner, who publicly said the Yankees were done with A-Rod. “Good-bye,” Steinbrenner announced on opt-out night.

We did plenty here at RAB after the opt-out. Namely:

  • Bid him adieu, noting that the opt-out signaled that he never intended to re-sign.
  • Moved his category from “Current Yankees” to “Selfish Jerks.”
  • Created a new one: “A-Rod’s Shimmy Makes the Women in New York Puke.”
  • Explored the myriad options open for the Yankees to fill the third base vacancy.

A few weeks later, though, we learned that A-Rod was talking to the Steinbrenners about a contract. We were baffled a bit — and I talked to more than one person who thought it was a facade to extract more value from the other teams on the market. But after a day or so, it became apparent that these talks were serious, and that A-Rod would be a Yankee for the rest of his career.

Rodriguez triumphantly called Boras from the meeting with the Steinbrenners. He mentioned some hope for incentives but didn’t seem to care too much about them. Boras nonetheless pressed for $30 million in very attainable home-run milestones and finalized the contract language. So with the $10 million Texas was obligated to pay after the opt out, that could bring the total haul to $315 million — which is not too bad for a guy who was portrayed as crawling back. Yet, it probably still fell short of what he could have gotten elsewhere (or maybe even from the Yankees, had he waited it out).

Given the treatment of A-Rod by the fans and media in the past, I was pleasantly surprised by the reaction to his re-signing. While a number of fans thought that we were making a mistake by giving him 10 years and $275 million, he was for the most part welcomed back with open arms.

And A-Rod is glad to be back, too.

“New York brings out the best in you. And the worst,” Rodriguez said the other day. “You have to be able to look in the mirror and be honest with yourself I didn’t want to go to a place and hide and have my weaknesses be swept away. New York has made me a better man. And it’s made me a better baseball player.”

It might be spin, it might be PR speak. But it’s damn nice to hear those words from the best player in baseball.

Rangers' hockey game in Yankee Stadium closer to reality
Joba, Mo and IPK go tonight
  • Rob

    Interesting that Cashman only wanted to go with 8 years and Levine guaranteed the two extra ones. It just goes to show how clearly Cashman is seeing the future.

  • mooks

    Go back and take a look at articles by Jon Heyman regarding a Mr. Scott Boras, and anything involving Boras.

    You’ll notice a pattern.

    A very over the top pattern.

  • Mac

    Yeah, that article is extraordinarily dubious in my opinion. Heyman seems to be a Boras croney.

    • Ben K.

      What motive would Heyman have for being a crony of Scott Boras’?

      • mooks

        My guess is that Boras feeds Heyman stories and is a good source for him.

        He is a crony (and I actually like Heyman).

        When I say he goes over the top with Boras, to give you an example.

        Heyman is the only writer I have ever read, from any publication, to criticize (he actually took shots at) ball players for firing their agent (who was Boras).

        He actually knocked 2 guys for firing Boras….and that was it. He also knocks players who are former Boras clients.

  • Cam

    Hey, just going back to the last post, any way we can start a petition to send to the Yanks opposed to the hockey game in Yankee Stadium? Just a thought.

    • Ben K.

      If you’re going back to the last post, please just leave your comment there. It’s still on the main page.

      • Cam

        My bad, I’ll remember that for next time.

  • dan

    I’m such a flip-flopper… I talked so much shit about A-rod when he opted out, but once he re-signed I was back on the bandwagon. I never booed him during his ’06 struggles, but I will definitely admit to being anti-arod this off-season.

    • Mike A.

      I was kinda in the same boat. I was going to miss having the greatest player alive on the team, but I wouldn’t miss the drama.

      • zack

        The funny thing is, since he’s resigned, the drama has, for the most part, been gone. A-Rod will continue to be the face of the team and the media will still try to stir things up, but it really seems that by and large, Yankee fans have accepted and embraced him. A-Rod has barely been mentioned in ST, and other than the whole flash in the pan “Jeter will win the MVP” and I was tested 10 times” incidents, which fans basically ignored and so the media forgot them quickly too, there’s been an amazing LACK of attention on A-Rod compared to the past and considering his contract.

        To me, this signals, I hope, the fact that as A-Rod continues to be the true face of this team and with the rise of the kids, we will really be able to enjoy A-Rod, who will hopefully continue what he did last season…

  • Elle

    Thanks for the link to this article. It supports my contention, which all my friends are tired of hearing about, that A-Rod was more bumbling with all this than arrogant or malicious. He always seems shocked by the negative attention he gets.

  • Pingback: » Blog Archive » Pride of the Yankees 3/10/08 The Bloggers

  • JeffG

    Man… I remember the morning when I first hear the news he opted out. It was the only thing on my mind as I took W to work. Over and over I couldn’t believe it.
    I thought for sure that he was gone and that meant there was a big hole to fill. But even more than that I couldn’t understand why? I never saw another team with the desire to sign the big contract and I believed after years of trying, and perhaps too much, he finally fit.
    In the end I guess you could say it was the poorest play his manager ever made. Luckily for us Alex might have realized what being a Yankee legend would mean. He’s here for that chance – and I can’t wait.