Dodgers need to land A-Rod
Torre's comments show promise LA could make big splash
There is a possibility the Los Angeles Dodgers will sign Alex Rodriguez.
And how do we know that? Simple. The most prominent baseball person in the Dodgers organization has told us so.
That would be Joe Torre, the new manager of the Dodgers. Just last Friday when Torre was asked if the Dodgers were among the teams that could make a run at Rodriguez, he replied: "It's possible. It's possible. It's possible."
Torre had just come off of a whirlwind trip to Los Angeles, where he met with team owners Frank and Jamie McCourt and general manager Ned Colletti. He learned of the plans for the team, the strong desire to win and he accepted the role as the manager of the Dodgers.
If Torre feels comfortable enough to say and twice repeat "It's possible" for the Dodgers to sign Rodriguez, you have to believe the McCourts feel just as strongly.
You know what -- it makes all of the sense in the world for the Dodgers to go after and to sign Rodriguez.
We are talking about Los Angeles and we are talking about the Dodgers and the team needs a star attraction. Alex Rodriguez is a star.
The Dodgers have a hole at third base and they need a major run producer. Alex Rodriguez can play third and he is a run producer of the first caliber, as evidenced by his 54 home runs and 156 runs batted in last season as a member of the New York Yankees.
Just how good was the production by A-Rod? Well, the Dodgers' top three home run hitters combined would have equaled Rodriguez with 54 homers. And the Dodgers' top two RBI guys combined for just 10 more runs batted in than Rodriguez.
There's no reason for the Dodgers to stop short now that they have created the headlines by signing Torre as their manager.
It will be a long time before a player the caliber of Rodriguez becomes available on the free agent market. The star players just don't reach free agency these days.
Furthermore, the Yankees have said they will not be bidding for Rodriguez now that he has exercised the opt-out clause in his contract.
From the Dodgers' standpoint, that's great. The highest revenue team has said it plans to stay on the sidelines while A-Rod decides where he wants to play.
A week from now, Rodriguez figures to receive his third Most Valuable Player Award in the American League. How often do you get the chance to sign an MVP player?
The last time it happened was when Barry Bonds left the Pittsburgh Pirates after the 1992 season to sign with the San Francisco Giants. Bonds won another MVP award for the Giants in 1993, and proved to be the most productive free-agent signing in the history of Major League Baseball.
Bonds was 28 years old when he started his career with the Giants. Rodriguez will start next season at the age of 32. There's not that much difference when you consider the fact that A-Rod always keeps himself in top condition.
If he makes the jump to the National League, Rodriguez will be a strong candidate to win the MVP award in both leagues, something that hasn't happened since Frank Robinson moved from Cincinnati to Baltimore in the 1960's.
Furthermore, the team that signs Rodriguez very likely will end up with the all-time home run leader because A-Rod is on a pace to pass Bonds and take over as the home run king.
The one thing about Rodriguez that doesn't get much mention is that he has played the last seven seasons with the burden (or benefit, if you prefer) of having signed the largest contract in baseball history -- a 10-year deal for $252 million -- and he has performed at a remarkably high level.
Forget the postseason stats that get mentioned time and again. Rodriguez can perform under pressure and in the biggest spotlight baseball has to offer.
The Dodgers have a group of good young players, but the team needs a centerpiece and a star. And even though the Dodgers youngsters performed well last season, they proved they are still trailing the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks in their own division, as these two teams advanced into postseason play.
OK, we have left out a little factor in all of this -- the contract that agent Scott Boras is going to be seeking on behalf of Rodriguez.
I've always been intrigued by the reported $300 million Boras is said to be seeking in a 10-year deal. The number is interesting because it shows the changing times in that the O'Malley family sold the Dodgers for a reported $311 million in 1998.
Very frankly, I have no idea how the contract for Rodriguez will shake out other than it will probably take some time in the stages of negotiation because that is the style of Boras.
It has been reported the McCourts purchased the Dodgers for $430 million in January 2004, and my guess would be the team has more than doubled in value since that time.
At this point, the McCourts have worked hard, but they now are playing with house money and they can make the biggest splash in their ownership history by signing one of the most prominent players in the game to help celebrate next season's 50th Dodgers anniversary in Los Angeles.
The Dodgers would have a star player for the present and the future to go with their highly visible manager and their bright young players.
Personally, I was pleased to hear Joe Torre say, "It's possible" that the Dodgers could sign Rodriguez.
I'm going to hold out hope until I hear Scott Boras say, "It's impossible."
Fred Claire was a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1969-98, serving the team as executive vice president and general manager. His book "Fred Claire: My 30 Years in Dodger Blue" was published by SportsPublishingLLC. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.