It is expected that Alex Rodriguez is likely to exercise an Opt-Out clause in his current contract with the Yankees to test the waters of Free Agency. He is currently earning $27MM per year and his agent Scott Boras said that $30MM will be the New New thing.
David Rosenheck concluded in the September 16th Sunday NYT Sports Column, Keeping Score, that the best thing for any team to do, would be to “pass” on the bidding process, save their funds, and continue to develop their farm systems. I couldn’t agree more and I applaud Brian Cashman’s decision to keep our young talent (read Pitching) and not trade away the future for some short-term emotional comfort this year. The baseball Gods have rewarded Mr. Cashman’s decision to sit on his hands at the trade deadline with a Yankee winning streak that has drastically narrowed Boston’s lead in the AL East to 1.5 games.
I take Brian Cashman at his word: the Yankees will not bid on A-Rod, but they will make him a deal that will keep him around because it is in everyone’s best interest. A-Rod is the sport’s most popular player and he’s a star on a team where it’s hard to stand out. He’s a perennial front-runner for MVP. He is 32 years of age, healthy, articulate, and good looking – an advertiser’s dream. He has a wife and a child. He’s making $27MM this year, and I think if the Yankees are pushed, they’ll pay him the $30MM. Yet a raise will not likely increase his quality of life at this point. He knows that. He’s a star and he wants to be on the biggest stage he can. Where’s he going, to Atlanta and TBS?
Yankee Global Enterprises, LLC owns the New York Yankees and YES Network, where Yankee baseball games are broadcast. Like any network, YES does not want to lose eyeballs and the Yankees are a big draw to YES. And they are even bigger because A-Rod is a Yankee. If A-Rod signs elsewhere, viewership on YES will fall. So will the advertising revenue at the network. That doesn’t sound like the kind of thing YES would want as it lowers their franchise value – they want to keep the eyeballs. This is especially true if YES is for sale…
At the pace that he’s going, it is believed that A-Rod will surpass Bobby Steroid’s All-Time Home Run record, once held by Hank Aaron. The longer A-Rod plays, and the closer he gets to the record, Yankee Global will not want to read those headlines in the Chicago Tribune, with A-Rod a Cub. A-Rod might want to reconnect with his former Seattle Manager, Lou Piniella, with whom he is said to be very close. But who doesn’t love Sweet Lou#14 though?
There is a very prosperous future for A-Rod in New York. The marketing value will be too much to give up. He’ll go the way of Michael Jordan and become A-Rod, Incorporated. Manhattan is the single best city to accomplish this, not Chicago or Boston, as much as I like those cities.
A-Rod will go well beyond the endorsement Crown Jewels of soft drinks, athletic shoe, and cars. Hopefully, he will not record an album, but cologne and a clothing line will be fait accompli. He already owns a Mercedes Benz dealership in Texas. Endorsement deals can extend well past a player’s retirement, and A-Rod will mean a lot to the Yankees in his retirement too.
The Yankees will make a deal to keep him a Yankee for the rest of his career. He’ll remain with the Yanks as an owner/coach, following other Yankee greats who became coaches or executives such as Reggie Jackson, Ron Guidry, Mel Stottlemyer, and former Captain, Don Mattingly.
Think of all the talent that Cashman didn’t trade and think of the new talent being brought into the Yankee farm system now. Over the next 5-6 years, they might end up being teammates with A-Rod. The rest, players for him. The impact A-Rod will have on that young talent is immeasurable.