02/16/2004 10:25 PM ET
It's official: Yankees land A-Rod
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
Yankees conference call
|Alex Rodriguez is taking his talents to the New York Yankees. (Kenji/MLB.com illustration)
NEW YORK -- Club president Randy Levine was "absolutely delighted." General manager Brian Cashman was "ecstatic."
And Alex Rodriguez was officially a New York Yankee.
The biggest trade since Boston sent Babe Ruth to New York became official on Monday, as the Yankees and Rangers completed the deal to bring Alex Rodriguez to New York.
Texas received second baseman Alfonso Soriano and a player to be named later. The Rangers will pick up approximately $40 million of Rodriguez's remaining contract in addition to the $27 million it still owes him, leaving the Yankees to pay $112 million over the next seven years.
"This is a phenomenal day for the New York Yankees and for baseball in general," Levine said shortly after Commissioner Bud Selig's approval finalized the deal. "We are absolutely delighted to have been able to acquire Alex Rodriguez."
Added Cashman, who spent two intense weeks to drive through a deal set in motion by Aaron Boone's basketball knee injury, "When we started this journey, we never really expected that we had a chance to conclude it. But we were able to work through the issues and resolve them to everyone's satisfaction."
The trade, which by Sunday had been approved by the two clubs and the Major League Players Association, became official with the Commissioner's blessing Monday afternoon.
In a statement, Selig said: "I am very concerned about the large amount of cash consideration involved in the transaction, and the length of time over which the cash is being paid. I want to make it abundantly clear to all Clubs that I will not allow cash transfers of this magnitude to become the norm. However, given the unique circumstances, including the size, length and complexity of Mr. Rodriguez' contract and the quality of the talent moving in both directions, I have decided to approve the transaction."
In response, Levine said, "The Commissioner was just recognizing the fact this was a very, very unique situation that went around the norm."
Rodriguez, a two-time Gold Glove shortstop, will shift a few feet to his right, becoming New York's new third baseman. Derek Jeter will remain at shortstop, giving the Yankees a star-studded left side of the infield.
Graig Nettles, the former All-Star third baseman who is a regular in the Tampa camp as a Spring Training instructor, will be charged with breaking in A-Rod at the position.
"To sacrifice a position change for the team concept was huge," Cashman said. "It was a Mt. Everest request, but if we hadn't asked the question, we wouldn't be here.
"I still can't believe we're in this position; that was a major hurdle in this process. Derek Jeter is the World Series shortstop of this team."
Rodriguez is expected to don his No. 13 pinstriped jersey for the first time at a Yankee Stadium press conference on Tuesday. Manager Joe Torre and team captain Jeter likely will attend the event to welcome A-Rod to the Big Apple.
When news broke Sunday that the teams had reached a deal, the baseball world was instantly abuzz.
"I guess any time you can get a player like Alex Rodriguez and have the wherewithal to do it ... it's a great trade for the Yankees," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "They got rid of a good one but when you can get someone like A-Rod, I guess you do it."
"We have chance to be very special team," Cashman said, "but we have to go out and prove that. We have to go on that beautiful journey that baseball takes you on."
Not only does Rodriguez land in New York, but the move keeps him out of Boston, where the Red Sox tried to bring him all winter. Texas and Boston appeared to be close to reaching a deal at several points throughout the offseason that would have sent Manny Ramirez to the Rangers, but there were sticking points around Rodriguez's contract that held it up.
When Boone -- the ALCS hero against the Red Sox -- went down with an ACL injury while playing basketball (he is scheduled for surgery today), the Yankees found themselves with a hole at third base. After bringing in non-roster veterans such as Tyler Houston and Mike Lamb, Cashman saw an opportunity last week to make a push for the game's best player, a push that resulted in A-Rod putting on pinstripes.
"Once Boonie got hurt, you kind of expected them to go out and do something," said Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella. "They always do. You have to give them credit for it."
"I'm thinking, Aaron Boone's done it to us twice in four months," said Red Sox pitcher Derek Lowe. "The first time with that homer in the playoffs. Now him getting hurt opened the door for Rodriguez."
Rodriguez, 28, hit .298 with 47 home runs and 118 RBIs last season, capturing his first American League MVP award. Rodriguez, the first reigning MVP to be traded, has led the AL in home runs in each of the past three seasons, averaging 52 per season.
He joins an already powerful lineup that includes Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi, Jeter, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams and Hideki Matsui. The only spot in the lineup that still is up for grabs is second base, where Soriano played for the past three seasons. Current candidates include Enrique Wilson, Miguel Cairo, Homer Bush, Houston and Lamb.
"We have arguable the best left-side infield in the history of baseball," Cashman said. "Wherever this team plays, from Tokyo to Seattle, I encourage fans to come see that left side of the infield. It's such a rare opportunity. It will be fun."
In 10 seasons, Rodriguez has a .308 average, 345 home runs and 990 RBIs. He is entering the fourth year of his unprecedented 10-year, $252 million contract. Both he and Jeter have seven years remaining on their respective deals, providing incredible stability on the left side of the infield.
Soriano, 25, has posted back-to-back, 35-homer, 35-stolen base seasons, but his poor postseason was a cause for concern in New York. He is signed through this season, in which he will make $5.4 million, but he remains under club control for two more seasons, becoming eligible for free agency after the 2006 campaign.
Yankees pitchers and catchers report to camp on Tuesday, the same day that Rodriguez will be introduced at a Yankee Stadium press conference. Rodriguez and the rest of the Yankees' position players are scheduled to report to Tampa on Sunday.
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. Paul C. Smith, Mark Sheldon and Ian Browne, reporters for MLB.com, contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.