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Escape from New York?

Handicapping the contenders for A-Rod's services

Posted: Tuesday October 30, 2007 11:52AM; Updated: Tuesday October 30, 2007 2:43PM
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Alex Rodriguez
It looks like we have seen the last of Alex Rodriguez in pinstripes.
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From the moment superstar Alex Rodriguez opted out of his $25 million-per-year Yankees/Rangers deal, he set up the biggest free-agent sweepstakes since ... well, since Rodriguez was a free agent seven years ago.

Rodriguez will get boatloads of loot, that's about all that's certain now. As for what teams can afford him, and which team he'll choose, that's the $300 million mystery.

Here's how the field shapes up:

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

The case for: For two years Angels owner Art Moreno has been making noise about doing something "major.'' Well, what would be more major than this? While Moreno's recent public comments suggest that he is disinclined to pay $30 million a year or more for any one player, he is known to be a fan of A-Rod's, and manager Mike Scioscia, who has great influence, has been clamoring for another big hitter to pair up with Vladimir Guerrero. If A-Rod goes to the Angels this could be a Manny Ramirez-David Ortiz situation. A-Rod would like the fact that they're a perennial winner, are in the American League and in a decent-sized market with a forgiving fan base and media. A-Rod's good buddy Reggie Jackson came to Anaheim when he left the Yankees, so it's been done before. While the Angels don't have a regional sports network, they are said to have some "flexibility'' in their current TV contract, meaning they can get out of it. In any case, Moreno is just the man to figure out how to make this work.

The case against: Moreno has been telling people he doesn't want to hit the $30 million mark for A-Rod, and it can't be determined yet how strongly he means it. He has also said that he didn't want to go past Guerrero's $15 million. Any A-Rod bid obviously would have to be higher than that. However, he'd have to change his thinking quite a bit to double Guerrero's pay. Anaheim (or Los Angeles, either one) is also pretty far from Rodriguez's home base in Miami.

Bottom Line: Moreno has been itching to make a splash. The favorite. Odds: 4-1.

Boston Red Sox

The case for: The Red Sox's brilliant leaders are willing to think outside the box, and this would certainly fit that description after all A-Rod's been through with the Red Sox -- from the original failed negotiations to the slap play to the fight with Jason Varitek to the comments of Trot Nixon (who's gone) and Curt Schilling (who may be gone). Rodriguez would love to play for a winner in the American League, and the Red Sox may get some payroll flexibility with significant money potentially coming off the books. The Red Sox print money, anyway, through their own network, NESN, so they can afford it. They wanted him badly the first time, and Rodriguez's two MVPs in four years in New York shouldn't change their opinion.

The case against: Most folks believe World Series MVP Mike Lowell is headed back to Boston, and with shortstop Julio Lugo entering the second year of his four-year deal, there is no obvious spot for Rodriguez, though it's not out of the question that Boston could consider dumping Lugo. And if there was an inclination to rid themselves of Manny Ramirez in the past, that feeling has to have dissipated by now. The fans also would be a concern. An hour after the Red Sox wrapped up their second World Series sweep in four seasons, the faithful who remained at Coors Field were chanting, "Don't Sign A-Rod.''

Bottom line: It would make for great theater, and A-Rod doesn't seem to mind the attention. Odds: 6-1.

San Francisco Giants

The case for: Ownership is sick of losing, well-heeled and willing to go for the gusto, as they proved last winter when they spent $126 million for Barry Zito, a No. 2 pitcher who pitched like a No. 4. They also seem to love the idea of employing a megastar to market around and might want the chance to celebrate an all-time home-run record without any taint. The lovely city would also allow A-Rod to pursue his cultural interests.

The case against: A right-handed batter has to dial long distance at AT&T Park to go deep. And even if Rodriguez should homer, he shouldn't count on anyone being on base. The Giants' already pathetic offense took a major hit when the team decided not to bring back controversial star Barry Bonds, leaving them with a gaping hole in a decidedly porous lineup. Without Bonds, this could be the worst-hitting team in the majors. They do have a nice quartet of starting pitchers, though no chance to win in the immediate future.

Bottom line: They've done it before, they can do it again. Odds: 7-1.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The case for: Owner Frank McCourt is a wild card. Word is that he's very upset with his club's disastrous finish. While he was perceived as being somewhat tight and having something less than deep pockets for a big-market owner, he spent liberally in free agency last winter and doesn't appear afraid to upset his fellow owners. In terms of history and cache, it's an organization that ranks right behind the Yankees.

The case against: Dodger Stadium is no hitter's park and would slow A-Rod's drive to overtake Bonds's all-time home run record. While the weather is perfect, L.A. is far from Miami and in the wrong league.

Bottom line: He just may be the right kind of star for L.A. Odds: 8-1.

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