Mets pull out of A-Rod sweepstakes
Updated: Wednesday November 15, 2000 9:25 AM
"It's about 25 players working as a team," Mets general manager Steve Phillips said. "The 24-plus-one-man structure really doesn't work. I don't mean to cast aspersions on Alex Rodriguez. ... But I don't think you can give different rules and separate one player from the rest of the team."
Rodriguez, perhaps the most desirable free agent ever to hit the open market, has many contract demands beyond the more than $200 million he is expected to receive.
Agent Scott Boras has asked teams for an office in the home stadium for A-Rod's marketing team to handle off-the-field issues, space to sell his own paraphernalia and charter jet service for family and friends.
"It would compromise the fabric of the team," Phillips said. "It might be different in a different city without the same caliber of players. I understand why Scott is asking for it. He is a very unique player who is one of the best or the best in the game."
But he is now a player with fewer potential suitors.
The New York Yankees, almost always involved with the biggest free agents, already have All-Star Derek Jeter entrenched at shortstop and won't be involved. The Los Angeles Dodgers' already bulging payroll might keep them on the sidelines in the bidding.
That leaves only a few teams willing and able to pay the steep price. Seattle, the Chicago White Sox, Colorado and Atlanta are believed to be the favorites. Boras didn't return a phone call seeking comment.
"I think in some city they'll find the right situation where he can thrive and perform and do the things he would like or want to do," Phillips said.
Rodriguez is looking for a 12-year contract worth at least $20 million annually. He also wants escalator clauses built into the deal to ensure that his salary doesn't fall behind other players and out clauses that let him leave if the team can no longer compete.
Phillips initially met with Boras last Tuesday at the general managers meetings in Amelia Island, Fla. After hearing the demands, Phillips conferred with co-owners Fred Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday last week and determined to cut off negotiations. Phillips notified Boras of the Mets' plans on Monday.
"He understood. He said we weren't the only club that voiced similar concerns," Phillips said.
Phillips said that even if Rodriguez backed off on some of his demands, he didn't expect the Mets to get back into the bidding because he is uncertain that Rodriguez could succeed without being handled the way the Mariners did.
"I'm not sure that it can change at this point," Phillips said. "In New York, the situation would more likely have to be enhanced rather than reduced to make him function. I can't anticipate any change that would draw us back into it."
The Mets also have closed the gap with free-agent pitcher Rick Reed, raising their offer to about $20 million for three years. Reed is looking for a four-year deal, but probably would be willing to settle for a three-year contract with an option.
"It's one I'll stay on and continue dialogue and hope to bring to a positive conclusion," Phillips said.