Place your bids, A-Rod may be up for grabs

By Jeremy Werner

Alex Rodriguez has compiled a pretty impressive resumé since he debuted as an 18-year-old phenom for the Seattle Mariners on July 8, 1994. “A-Rod” became the youngest player to hit 500 home runs this past August and will likely win his third MVP award after leading the American League in home runs, runs and RBIs this past season.

Rodriguez has also set records with his financial statements. The 10-year, $252 million deal he signed with the Texas Rangers in 2001 still remains the most expensive contract signed in professional sports.

But probably not for long.

A-Rod has a chance to opt out of his contract this year and enter free agency. The Yankees have said that if A-Rod opts out they will not re-sign him. If he leaves, the Angels, Red Sox, Dodgers and possibly the Cubs would enter a bidding war to acquire the best baseball player in the past decade.

ESPN reports that the Yankees are prepared to offer an extension to Rodriguez. The salary of the deal is expected to hover around $30 million, topping Roger Clemens for the highest salary ever. Such a deal would pay A-Rod nearly $50,000 each time he steps in the batter’s box, assuming he accumulates 600 at bats in a season.

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    So who’s going to win the auction for A-Rod’s services? Cub fans shouldn’t dream too much. It was reported that potential buyers of the Chicago Cubs franchise were prepared to offer A-Rod a big contract and possible part ownership of the franchise.

    In the end, A-Rod will likely not be seen in a Cubs uniform. Taking on a contract of that size is not attractive to potential buyers a year after the Cubs spent nearly $300 million on Alfonso Soriano, Ted Lilly, Mark DeRosa and Aramis Ramirez.

    The Red Sox have also been mentioned as a possible destination for A-Rod. Red Sox fans are probably still bitter about A-Rod refusing to be traded to Boston in 2003 and then subsequently accepting a trade to the hated Yankees. But I’m sure most Red Sox fans would change their tone when they imagine a possible lineup of A-Rod, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez.

    But Boston may not be the best place for A-Rod. He has been hounded by the New York media and spoiled Yankee fans for not being clutch in the playoffs, despite hitting 173 home runs in four seasons. A-Rod has obviously been frustrated by the criticism and is likely another reason for him to opt out of his existing contract.

    Criticism is going to come to those who are paid A-Rod type money, but playing at Wrigley or Fenway would be no easier than at Yankee Stadium. Cubs and Red Sox fans are just as passionate and have ostracized players in the past, such as Carl Everett and Sammy Sosa.

    The Angels are also said to be highly interested in signing A-Rod and the most likely to do so, if he does not re-sign with the Yankees. He would give the Angels the big bat they have been looking to put in front of superstar Vladimir Guerrero. The Angels have the financial abilities to give A-Rod what he needs and are able to provide him with a fresh new start to a fan base that would welcome him with open arms.

    In the end, though, the Yankees have to be the favorites in the A-Rod sweepstakes. No other team can provide A-Rod with a more attractive offer. Not only can they give him nearly $30 million a year, but they can consistently spend nearly $200 million a year on players around him. The Yankees give A-Rod the best shot at winning a World Series ring.

    The Yankees have made the playoffs for 13 straight years, one season shy of the Atlanta Braves record. With A-Rod on board, they’re likely to continue that streak. They say money can’t buy you happiness. Tell that to gloomy Tampa Bay Devil Rays fans who would love to make the playoffs just once.

    Jeremy Werner is a junior in Communications. He can be reached at [email protected].