So A-Rod opted out of his contract with the Yankees. Is anyone really surprised?
Well, I suppose some people must be surprised since the media consensus over the past week seemed to be moving toward the notion that the Yankees would just offer whatever it took to keep him and that would be that.
But we must always remember that Scott Boras ALWAYS takes his players to free agency. It’s a matter of principle, but also just smart business practice. If your job is to make the most money you possibly can for your client, why would you ever accept a situation in which you have less leverage than you could have?
But this also shows that A-Rod is a weak-willed character who is totally under the thumb of Scott Boras. We have long known that Scott Boras can convince many GMs and owners of almost anything, but we should also recognize how much he uses that silver tongue on his own clients.
Because I think we can all agree that it was probably in A-Rod’s best interest to stay with the Yankees. He was finally on the verge of becoming a “True Yankee” and signing a Jeter-esque 9-year Yankee-for-life type contract would have sealed the deal. He could have finished out his career on the most glamorous team in sports and had his name etched into Baseball Lore alongside the likes of Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, and Mantle.
But now, if the Yankees keep their word and refuse to negotiate with A-Rod, his time with the Yankees are done, and at age 32, A-Rod will be joining his fourth team. He will go into the Hall of Fame as a mercenary, and choosing which team’s hat he should wear will be one of the most difficult hat-choosing decisions the Hall will have ever faced.
I mean, if he retired today, would we think of A-Rod as a Mariner? As a Ranger? As a Yankee? He was all of those, but really none of those. He certainly never quite reached “True Yankee” status, and if there is such thing as being a “True Mariner” or a “True Ranger” he certainly never became those either.
But more than anything, A-Rod and the Yankees were such a match made in Heaven, because A-Rod was such a great symbol for everything the Yankees of this current era represent. The team that is willing to spend any amount of money signs the games most mercenary player to the biggest deal ever. A-Rod needs to be on the Yankees, because it simultaneously makes both the Yankees and A-Rod more hateable, thus perpetuating two of 21st-century baseball’s greatest traditions.
But now? A-Rod as an Angel? A-Rod as a Met? A-Rod as a Phillie? He just doesn’t belong on any of those teams.
And as for the Yankees, they are now officially in total disarray. Torre is gone. A-Rod seems gone. Rivera and Posada can feel free to leave if they want. Clemens and Mussina are done.
And it’s not like the Yankees can just fill holes by overpaying on the free agent market anymore, the way they had for so many years, what with the way the free agent market has dried up over the last few years with teams locking up players to long term deals so much earlier these days.
Scott Boras is likely correct – the Yankees probably do need A-Rod even more than A-Rod needs the Yankees, and it probably would be in the Yankees’ best interest to negotiate with A-Rod anyway, even though they swore they would not.
And I think that is probably what is going to happen, actually.
Although what I would really love the Yankees to do is to send a strong message, offering A-Rod the exact same monstrous 5-year extension they reportedly offered him the day before he opted out, but with the $27 million they will no longer be getting from the Rangers subtracted from the total. So they can say, “Fine, you want to cost us $27 million? Well it’s coming out of your salary.”