Buffett Watch

Warren Buffett Helps Bring A-Rod Back to the Yankees

New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez hits a three-run home off Kansas City Royals pitcher Kyle Davies during the first inning as Royals catcher Jason LaRue and umpire Jerry Meals, left, look on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2007 at Yankee Stadium in New York. Rodriguez became the youngest player in major league history to hit 500 home runs, sending the first pitch he saw Saturday just past the foul pole in left field. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Bill Kostroun

Warren Buffett knows baseball, knows money and has a lot of common sense.  So it shouldn't be a surprise that baseball star Alex Rodriguez would turn to the Omaha billionaire when he found himself needing some common sense advice about baseball and money.

A front page story in today's Wall Street Journal details how a "worried" A-Rod called Buffett late last week.  Rodriguez, reportedly at the urging of his high-powered agent Scott Boras, had exercised an option in his contract with the New York Yankees allowing him to become a free agent.   He gave up the $72 million he would have earned in the final three years of a 10-year pact, apparently in hopes of getting even more by starting a bidding war for his slugging services.  The war, however, never got going, and A-Rod was getting slammed himself for appearing to be ungrateful and selfish.

Even worse in the eyes of New Yorkers, he seemed to be declaring himself a Yankee who didn't love New York and didn't wish with all his heart that he would always remain a Yankee.

Buffett and Rodriguez had become friends over the years, so he called Buffett for words of wisdom.  According to the Journal:

"Mr. Buffett's advice was simple, says a person familiar with the matter: approach the Yankees solo, without Mr. Boras.  'A-Rod really loves being a Yankee,' says Mr. Buffett.  He declined to comment on the substance of any conversation with Mr. Rodriguez, saying he doesn't discuss private talks."

The Journal says Rodriguez then enlisted the help of two Goldman Sachs executives to make peace with the Yankees. 

(See Darren Rovell's Sports Biz post A-Rod/Yankee Talks: What Part Did Goldman Sachs Play?  Darren also has an interesting post with his take on whether owning a professional sports franchise is a money-making venture: Warren Buffett And A-Rod: Oh, The Irony Of It All.)

A-Rod and the Yankees now appear to be heading toward a 10-year contract worth up to $275 million, the biggest ever for a professional sports team.

Buffett presumably doesn't get a slice, but he does get the satisfaction of helping to engineer one of the greatest peace deals in baseball.

Boras, according to the Journal, still gets his commission.

Questions?  Comments?  Email me at buffettwatch@cnbc.com

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