The latest event in the A-Rod saga with the Yankees is almost too bizarre to believe. Alex Rodriguez opted out of his contract to become a free agent without giving the Yankees the opportunity to negotiate. Supposedly, the Yankees were willing to extend Rodriguez’s deal five years for $150 million in their initial offer. Adding this to the remaining three years and $81 million owed on his current contract, that would guarantee him $231 over the next eight seasons. That translates to $29 million per year, which is about five million less than than I predicted, so I was not surprised that he didn’t think this was enough to keep him. However, I thought it was a bad move to opt out so soon, because the Yankees could up their offer and had the advantage of having the Texas Rangers subsidizing any extension. I assumed that A-Rod was just ready to leave.
Last week, Jeff Gordon argued in the NY Times that A-Rod’s opt out was part of a strategy to make the Yankees respond to competing offers from other team, and that the Yankee’s refusal to negotiate further was not credible. When higher offers came in , the Yankees would cave and match the offer. I disagreed, because of the damage this would do to the Yankees bargaining power in the future. I also felt an actual free agent bidding war wasn’t necessary to determine Rodriguez’s value; the Yankees and Scott Boras could make close approximations and then move on if the numbers didn’t match. But, neither of us anticipated what seems to be transpiring.
Alex Rodriguez is now willing to return to the Yankees for a longer time but for less money per year (ten years and $270 million, according to published reports)—his penance for keeping the Yankees on the hook for $20-30 million dollars that the Texas Rangers would be contributing to his salary had he just extended his deal.
An already wealthy man who has a reputation for being greedy and childish goes through the ordeal of upsetting everyone by opting out to get more, but then returns to get less? Why didn’t he just extend the deal? It’s not like this was a rushed process; it seems like we’ve been discussing the opt-out for years. Going back on a well-planned strategy at this time seems…well, childish and something only A-Rod is capable of doing. It certainly isn’t a move that will endear him to Yankee fans, even if he does make the team better.
There is still the possibility that this is a marketing ploy to up the offers of other free agent suitors. I still think that there is a decent chance that he will sign somewhere else, but the media reports that are coming from all sides make the think that this deal is more likely to go down than not. The end result of this entire process is that a great baseball player who is hard to like is poorer and less-likable than he once was. Nice move, Alex.