Before the 2004 season, Alex Rodriguez was almost a Red Sox.
The move was eventually stopped by the Player Association because Rodriguez tried to give money back in an attempt to leave Texas.
This, of course, lead to the trade between the Yankees and Texas which landed Rodriguez in the Bronx. After four rollercoaster seasons, Rodriguez is having a career year while the Yankees are having a sub-par season. The team is getting old and several of its best players are in walk years.
Rodriguez may not be getting booed anymore in the Bronx but the team is.
At the end of the season, Rodriguez will be able to opt out of the largest position player contract in baseball to become a free agent. His agent, the notorious Scott Boras, has cited that his goal is to have Rodriguez become the first 30 million dollar, per year, player in team sports.
One team has already expressed interest in giving a contract of that magnitude: the Boston Red Sox.
First, is Rodriguez worth 30 million dollars?
Despite the choker reputation, Rodriguez is arguably the best player baseball has ever seen. He is four home runs away from 500 as he approaches his 32nd birthday. He would replace Jimmy Foxx as the youngest to make it to the “500 Club.”
Second, Rodriguez is a right-handed power hitter with speed who is a plus defender that can play shortstop. With Manny Ramirez nearing the end of his contract, one has to look to a replacement. Miguel Cabrera is not only a pipe dream with a heavy trade cost, but his expanding waist line makes for some concern over the future. Though Rodriguez is 31, he is in excellent shape and has no history of major injury.
Third, if the Red Sox get Rodriguez, and when Manny leaves, they can shift Coco Crisp to left field and have Jacoby Ellsbury start in center field or have Wily Mo Pena move into Ramirez’s spot.
With the contracts of Curt Schilling, Mike Lowell, Matt Clement, Eric Hinske, Mike Timlin and payments to Edgar Renteria and Joel Pineiro, coming off the books, there is more than enough room to add 30 million dollar player, and still be 15 to 20 million under the salary cap.
In 2008, the Red Sox will also lose the contracts of Jason Varitek and Ramirez.
With Daisuke Matsuzaka and Josh Beckett locked up and the emergence of minor leaguer Clay Buchholz, the Red Sox are not going to have to chase a frontline starter.
So, in theory, getting Rodriguez does not really cramp the Red Sox’s financial flexibility.
Other teams will be interested in Rodriguez, too. The Yankees desperately want to extend him so that they can still get him at his discounted rate with Texas fronting some of the bill.
If he opts out, it will cost the Yankees $9 million per season more to sign him than extending him. The Cubs will be looking for a shortstop and Rodriguez has a great relationship with Piniella. However, the price just might be too high for the Cubs ownership who have yet to extend Zambrano, who has turned his season around over the last two months.
In the end the decision lies with Rodriguez, though Boras may have a big hand in it.
If the Red Sox are able to acquire Rodriguez, one would imagine that Steinbrenner could decide to come back and overstep Cashman again, especially after this poor season.
The Yankees will be looking for another outfielder. Boras is Andruw Jones’s agent who arguably is the best outfielder on the free agent market. He is also the agent to Texas first baseman Mark Teixeira whom the Yankees are looking to trade for, and then extend his contract beyond 2008.
A Rodriguez defection could land Boras into multiple big pay days this offseason.
About the author
Tom Ricardo is a self-admitted Red Sox fan, who spends his days blogging on the Son’s of Sam Horn fan Web site. There, you will see analysis of the statistical portion of the game and an admiration of Bill James. Ricardo responded to a call for guest columns and may contribute in the future.