SI Flashback: Hello, New York (cont.)
Posted: Thursday November 15, 2007 1:08PM; Updated: Thursday November 15, 2007 3:30PM
Never before have George Steinbrenner's Yankees been more befitting of Fitzgerald's take on the very rich: "They are different from you and me." With the Rodriguez trade the other 29 franchises look on New York with further contempt not only because it makes the Yankees richer, but also because they were lucky. A-Rod fell into their lap less than a week before spring training started, and they were able to negotiate such a relatively small financial obligation to Rodriguez ($16 million annual average) that they will pay him less than Jeter and Giambi, less than what the Red Sox will pay Manny Ramirez and Pedro Martinez, and less than what the Houston Astros pay 35-year-old first baseman Jeff Bagwell.
What's more, Rodriguez will add only $2.4 million to New York's 2004 payroll as it stood before Boone played basketball. While the Yankees will pay Rodriguez $15 million this year, they got off the hook for the combined $12.6 million they would have owed Boone ($5 million, assuming he gets only termination pay for violating his contract's no-basketball clause); failed third base prospect Drew Henson ($2.2 million), who quit to pursue an NFL career; and second baseman Alfonso Soriano ($5.4 million), who was sent to Texas with a minor leaguer to be named in the Rodriguez deal. The Rangers are to choose from a list of five prospects before March 31.
Texas agreed to pay $67 million of the $179 million (over seven years) left on Rodriguez's original record-busting $252 million, 10-year contract. The trade still lightened the Rangers' long-term obligations by about $120 million (including interest), freeing them to save or spend the savings as they rebuild what has been a last-place team for four years running. For instance, Texas immediately worked to finalize a five-year extension for third baseman Hank Blalock, a commitment that one team source said would not have been possible without the A-Rod deal.
The Rangers' $67 million sweetener did, however, give some pause to commissioner Bud Selig, who, according to one major league source, heard complaints from owners such as the Baltimore Orioles' Peter Angelos. Selig had pushed hard to accommodate Rodriguez's trade to Boston so the game's best player could get to a competitive, high-visibility franchise. He fretted more about Rodriguez as a Yankee, one source in the commissioner's office said, because New York's payroll of about $190 million figures to be about $70 million ahead of the rest of the field, led by Boston. Selig, though, approved the trade on Monday after almost three days of study.
Boston could have had Rodriguez in December for Ramirez, but after trying to restructure A-Rod's contract, it killed the deal because of a $15 million difference between what it was willing to pay Rodriguez and what the union would allow in the devaluation of A-Rod's contract. When the Red Sox heard late last week that New York was engaged in talks with Texas about Rodriguez, they made a futile attempt to get back in the hunt, according to two sources involved in the negotiations. "Too little, too late," one source said.