So Alex Rodriguez and Scott Boras managed to upstage the World Series when it became clear, during the game, that A-Rod was going to opt for the free market (big surprise). But the fact that the Yankees had insisted, and insisted again in the papers this morning, that they would not participate in the bidding war if the option was turned down, could make this Boras' most challenging negotiation.
The Yankees are the most robust business in the league and if you believe them, it's a major risk to count them out. But Boras still has plenty of candidates left. Here's my guess. At the end of this, Alex Rodriguez will be playing in the state of California next year and he will get his $32 million a year thanks to a bidding war between the Giants, the Dodgers and the Angels.
He won't quite be the $300 million man because whoever lands him won't be able to insure that much. That's why I'm calling it an eight-year deal worth $256 million total, so that Boras can say he topped A-Rod's last deal (with two less years).
Here's who I think who needs A-Rod most from a financial perspective.
1. San Francisco Giants:
I'm putting the Giants at the top of the list. Assuming they don't re-sign Barry Bonds at any price, they are going to need an every day attraction to keep sellouts coming to AT&T Park. The stadium is entering its eighth year and everyone who has wanted to see it has pretty much done so. Since the ballpark is privately financed, the risk of losing fans with a lackluster performance hits closer to home with the Giants than any other team in the league. Plus, they've already proven that they are willing to pay Boras prices by signing Barry Zito last off season. That being said--as my former ESPN colleague Geoff Reiss reminds me--if A-Rod cares about hitting 800, he might not be able to reach it in San Francisco, consistently ranked as one of the National League's worst hitters parks.
2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim:
I would normally put them at No. 1 because I think owner Arte Moreno is willing to spend money and loves the appeal in the market of Hispanic players -- witness Vladimir Guerrero, Kelvim Escobar and Francisco Rodriguez. But I was a little discouraged when Moreno suggested to sports host Jim Rome in June that A-Rod was too old for a long term deal above $25 million a year. Moreno has proven that there's enough room for the Angels and the Dodgers to draw huge numbers, but he also understands the need for star power and winning. Next year marks the sixth year since the World Series title and Moreno might feel better about A-Rod when he realizes how close he can be to signing him.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers:
The Los Angeles Dodgers certainly don't need Alex Rodriguez for attendance. This past year, they drew 3.85 million fans, a franchise record. But if you believe that owners want to win first, you have to think that Frank McCourt isn't happy with the four seasons he has endured since he agreed to buy the team in Oct. 2003. Combine that with the fact that the team hasn't been past the first round of the playoffs since they won it all in 1988 and there might be sentiment to make the leap. Just a reminder, if Joe Torre winds up here, don't make the mistake of thinking that "A-RodoBorasaurus" will offer any discount.
4. Boston Red Sox:
Do they need him? Obviously not. In case you haven't heard they just won the World Series. The question is how much do they really want him? They liked him in 2004 when they tentatively agreed to a deal before it was disallowed, but is the price still right. Mike Lowell is still a good option at third at a fraction of the price and the truth is, it"s not like the World Series gave the Sox a financial bonanza. Still, he's a fine player and you can't help but think that getting an ex-Yank adds a bit to a signing. Plus, this is really the only team that Boras could convince that his client has "network" value, since the Red Sox own part of NESN. Sure, they sprung for Dice-K, but I don't think the Red Sox are willing to come out on top here.
5. New York Yankees:
I know. I know. They said it was over and confirmed it. Plus they lose the millions in subsidies from the Texas Rangers. But I'm pretty sure Boras thinks they are coming back into play here. And I think that there's a better chance of the Yankees coming back into the game than A-Rod going to any dark horse like what will be the ownerless Cubs, the White Sox or the perfectly infield full Mets.
Why do we believe the Yankees so much when the last negotiation we saw had The Boss himself saying Torre was gone if they didn't make it past the ALDS? Next thing we knew, Torre was offered back--albeit at a discount. If the Yanks come in, it won't be at a discount in terms of price. But my gut tells me that they could be back in if Boras is willing to sell his client for five years, not eight.
The bottom line? The $30 million number is attainable, even without the Yankees, but I don't think any owner will be willing to pay for A-Rod for 10 years.
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