A-Rod Stays Put

111607 megdal new A Rod Stays PutAlex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees have agreed to the framework of a 10-year, $275 million contract, bringing a happy resolution to a process that the Yankees announced had ended on October 28, when Rodriguez opted out of the final three years of his contract.

According to the New York Times, the Yankees are willing to offer incentives to push the contract beyond the $300 million mark if Rodriguez passes current all-time home run leader Barry Bonds.

The specifics of the agreement still need to be drafted and approved by Scott Boras, Rodriguez’s agent. Boras, however, did not participate in the meetings between Rodriguez and the Yankees that led to the deal.

The agreement came following a public rapprochement that defied the statements of the Yankees, but fit perfectly with the realities of the marketplace and the needs of the team.

While the Yankees said this past spring that they would not negotiate with Rodriguez during the 2007 season, they went back on their word months later in an effort to keep him from reaching the open market. Again after Rodriguez opted out of his contract, the Yankees said they would not negotiate with him under any circumstances.

“If you don’t want to be a Yankee and paid what you’re being paid, we don’t want you, that’s the bottom line,” Yankees acting managing partner Hank Steinbrenner told the New York Times just after learning of Rodriguez’s decision.

But late last week, when a friend of Rodriguez at Goldman Sachs, John Mallory, reached out to Gerald Cardinale, another Goldman Sachs partner who had worked with the Yankees, the two sides began exchanging proposals.

The concession made by Rodriguez was to negotiate directly with the Yankees in place of his agent, Boras, who normally conducts negotiations without his player. Much media speculation has indicated that Rodriguez’s decision represents some kind of acrimonious break with Boras.

But Boras was likely a willing participant in the contract kabuki. Not only has this happened before, it has even happened with Rodriguez. In 1993, A-Rod, drafted by Seattle, went against the advice of his agent Boras and accepted a contract with a $1.3 million signing bonus. And in 2002, Andruw Jones negotiated a 5-year, $75 million contract extension with the Atlanta Braves with his father, not Boras.

In both cases, the players remained Boras clients.

This time, Rodriguez may well have found that the likely suitors were not prepared to meet or exceed even the paltry $25.2 million annual salary he had been earning. The Angels appeared interested, as were the Dodgers, and even the Mets spoke to Boras.

But if Rodriguez ended up with most of what he wanted, it’s the Yankees who should be the most relieved. Contract terms aside, any of their alternatives at third base would have represented a massive downgrade from Rodriguez. While World Series MVP Mike Lowell is on the market, his 2007 campaign, which represents a performance out of context with the rest of his career, was roughly two thirds as productive as Rodriguez’s 2007, which closely mirrors his 2005 season.

In-house option Wilson Betemit, meanwhile, provided an alternative at a lower cost—and likely slightly lesser offensive production than Lowell.

And the Florida Marlins’ Miguel Cabrera, while an offensive player to rival Rodriguez, would have cost a number of top prospects in any trade, such as pitchers Philip Hughes and Joba Chamberlain. Even if the Yankees wanted to part with them, they would be hard-pressed to find talent remotely close to those two on a thin free-agent market.

So they’ve got Rodriguez, once again. Now all they need is a ring.