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August 1, 2003
Alex In Wonderland
Alex Rodriguez, who might as well have the number 252 tattooed on his face a la Mike Tyson, inspired a media circus this week by suggesting he would accept a trade if the Rangers believed it to be in the best interest of the franchise. This was immediately misinterpreted as a request to leave Arlington, and brought out the same yahoos who are going to follow Rodriguez around for the rest of his career, criticizing anything he does short of tossing 225 innings with a 3.10 ERA for the Rangers.
But let's put aside for a second whether or not it makes sense for the Rangers to make a deal that moves Rodriguez. Let's similarly put aside any ridiculous, ill-informed tripe that suggests Rodriguez isn't a team guy, or that "winning obviously wasn't a priority" when he signed with Texas in 2001. Let's ignore that the Rangers have done an impressive job of blowing money down the toilet on a number of other players with a heck of a lot less return. And for this exercise, let's not even admit that the Rangers develop pitchers about as often as TV producers improve a show while it's "on hiatus."
Let's just consider this: If the Rangers want to deal A-Rod...
First, there's money still owed A-Rod over the course of his deal...
Year Salary -------------------- 2003 $ 6,000,000 2004 $ 18,000,000 2005 $ 21,000,000 2006 $ 21,000,000 2007 $ 23,000,000 2008 $ 24,000,000 2009 $ 24,000,000 2010 $ 24,000,000 2011 $ 0,000,000 2012 $ 0,000,000 2013 $ 1,343,916 2014 $ 4,031,749 2015 $ 5,375,666 2016 $ 5,375,666 2017 $ 5,375,666 2018 $ 4,031,749 2019 $ 4,031,749 2020 $ 4,031,749 -------------------- Total $194,597,910And that's assuming A-Rod is dealt in August, and assuming he clears waivers. (The 2003 and 2013 numbers are in there just in case, really. If a deal were to occur, it would probably happen in the off-season.)
That's probably too rich for several teams' blood, even with the large amount of deferred compensation. Rodriguez would probably have to restructure the deal, but it's hard to imagine a club being willing to go too much further out in the future for deferral. Can you imagine Allard Baird putting that kind of encumbrance, even at 0% interest, out to say, 2030? "Assistant GM Prince Fielder told the Topeka Capital-Journal that the Royals wanted to sign Phil Plantier III, but with the $6 million still being paid to President Rodriguez, the budget was simply too tight. President Rodriguez was unavailable for comment, as he was headed to Times Square to join Dick Clark for New Year's Rockin' Eve 2029." Also, I can definitely see the league offices getting upset about deferring compensation to the point where the monetary unit has changed from dollars to some bizarre dollar/Euro/Drachma hybrid.
There's not really much room for Rodriguez to restructure the contract in a meaningful way. He's already under contract until well into his expected decline, and adding (relatively) inexpensive years at the end of the deal makes it less of a value for any potential trade partner--paying a ton of money for a middle infielder in his late 30s, no matter how great he is now, is just plain too risky. Whoever makes the deal for A-Rod is probably going to have to deal with a contract that isn't materially different than what's already extant.
So who could take on the contract?
Well, technically, any team could take the plunge. But in reality, it's unlikely that a team without a major cash boost from its local broadcast contracts, or a major appreciation boost from ancillary properties, could consider bringing on that kind of burden.
On the baseball side, however, it's hard to imagine a club that couldn't use A-Rod. Given the financial contraints involved, though, not every team would be a good fit. But let's scan the landscape for clubs that could be a good fit:
All that being said, A-Rod's probably not going anywhere. Texas may not have done a good job developing or buying pitching, but they've got a vicious young core of hitters, and eventually they'll either learn that you need to have a set of nine bashers, and stop doing things like acquiring Doug Glanville, or that you need to have some semblance of a pitching staff, and quit throwing tons of money at mediocre relievers coming off of what are demonstrably fluke seasons. Besides, in the meat grinder that is the AL West, you want to build around players like A-Rod, not find a reason to ship him off just because you haven't brought a flag home in three years.
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