If Rodriguez leaves New York, it will be the headline story of the next Hot Stove season. We're talking about a 12-time All-Star and two-time Most Valuable Player who makes news when he's getting a tan in Central Park. Rodriguez has averaged 40 homers and 119 RBI in New York, but he still makes some Yankees fans wistful for the Scott Brosius era.
Publicly, at least, Rodriguez is pledging allegiance to the Yankees. And Boras, true to form, is keeping his negotiating options open.
"I don't think Alex personalizes it,'' Boras said. "He knows when you're a New York Yankee and the Yankees don't win, that players of a certain stature are going to get a certain response from the fans. He accepts that.
"He's in a very good situation. He's playing for a team he loves to play for, and he can either evaluate [the clause] or let it pass. Frankly, he doesn't have to do anything.''
What will A-Rod do? Here are three possibilities:
Scenario 1: Rodriguez's 2007 regular-season numbers are impressive, but they're rendered meaningless when the Yankees are bounced in the Division Series. It's A-Rod's fourth straight October flameout, and he's getting torched on WFAN radio and buried in the tabloids. He's thinking about wearing a Bobby Valentine nose-and-glasses disguise around town just to maintain his sanity.
"He's in a very good situation. He's playing for a team he loves to play for, and he can either evaluate [the escape clause in his contract] or let it pass. Frankly, he doesn't have to do anything." -- Agent Scott Boras on Alex Rodriguez
The good news is, Rodriguez's production still ranks among the elite players in the game. As it becomes increasingly clearer that the A-Rod-New York union isn't working and he's going to opt out, potential suitors are standing in line.
The Angels are always looking for help for Vladimir Guerrero, and the Dodgers might be willing to sign another big Boras client despite the hard feelings from Drew's abrupt departure. The Nationals want a marquee name as they prepare to move into a new park in April 2008, and the Red Sox, those freethinkers, can never be counted out as players. Maybe Seattle fails to re-sign Ichiro Suzuki and decides to dump Adrian Beltre and bring back A-Rod to resurrect the good old days.
Rodriguez is guaranteed $81 million over his final three seasons in New York, and that $27 million annual payout will be tough to surpass. But if Boras can land him $150 million-plus for a long-term deal and a fresh start, it will be tough for A-Rod to resist taking the plunge.
Scenario 2: Rodriguez hits the jackpot. He belts 50 home runs, wins a third MVP award and the Yankees capture the World Series for the first time since 2000. He enjoys a public relations makeover, just as Peyton Manning did after winning the Super Bowl. Derek Jeter and his teammates embrace him as a "true Yankee,'' and everyone is so giddy after the parade, it's no longer outlandish to envision him finishing his career in pinstripes.
Because Texas is responsible for a third of the $81 million New York must pay Rodriguez from 2008 through 2010, the Yankees are basically getting a year of A-Rod for free. Boras is happy to make that point when he approaches general manager Brian Cashman about an extension.