11/15/07 10:22 PM ET
A-Rod, Yankees agree to basic deal
Contract worth $275 million for 10 years would have incentives
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
The amount of the guaranteed money was reported Thursday evening by The Associated Press, citing a person familiar with the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been finalized.
Parameters of the deal, which would be the richest in baseball history, were set in place last weekend when Rodriguez reached out to the club. Rodriguez and his wife, Cynthia, then met with Hank and Hal Steinbrenner on Wednesday in Tampa.
"The meeting was a final get-together," Hank Steinbrenner told the AP. "He wanted to make sure myself and my brother knew that he was sincere and serious."
The deal will not be finalized until the Yankees draft the agreement with Rodriguez's agent, Scott Boras. Apparently one final order of business concerns just how much money Rodriguez, who has 518 home runs, could earn if and when he surpasses Barry Bonds' career home run record of 762.
"The Yankees have never had a player since Babe Ruth that really had a 100 percent chance [to break the homer record]," Steinbrenner said. "[Mickey] Mantle should have, but he had too many injuries. It's a historical achievement bonus more than it is an incentive bonus. There is no yearly incentive bonus."
The reported agreement comes one day after Rodriguez confirmed making direct contact with the Yankees with the hope of reviving his future in New York, reversing the course of a relationship that appeared to be irretrievably broken when word came of Rodriguez's opt-out during Game 4 of the World Series.
In a statement posted on AROD.com, Rodriguez's official Web site, he said that he had spoken directly with the Steinbrenner family and is taking part in continuing dialogue with the club."After spending time with Cynthia and my family over these last few weeks, it became clear to me that I needed to make an attempt to engage the Yankees regarding my future with the organization," Rodriguez said. "Prior to entering into serious negotiations with other clubs, I wanted the opportunity to share my thoughts directly with Yankees ownership. We know there are other opportunities for us, but Cynthia and I have a foundation with the club that has brought us comfort, stability and happiness."
Hank Steinbrenner then confirmed the Yankees' continuing discussions with Rodriguez in multiple interviews granted late Wednesday."Things are moving along, and we'll see how it goes," Steinbrenner told The New York Times. "Everyone seems to be pleased about it. I'm certainly pleased. Despite some cynical attitudes there may be over the next few weeks, Alex genuinely does not want to leave the team, and you really can't blame him, because we've got the talent to win.
"I think he won the fans over during the season last year. I just think he was apologetic for things that happened earlier, when he wasn't necessarily calling the shots. He wants to stay a Yankee."
According to the Times, Boras has been in Rodriguez's hometown of Miami for weeks and has started working on contract language. But Boras was not present at Rodriguez's meeting with the Steinbrenners on Wednesday, and the open dialogue at that meeting is what intensified the negotiations.
Baseball's biggest deals
|Should Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees sign off on the reported agreement of a 10-year, $275-million contract, it will become the richest deal signed by a Major Leaguer.|
|1*||Alex Rodriguez||Yankees||10 years (2008-17)||$275 million|
|2||Alex Rodriguez||Rangers||10 years (2001-10)||$252 million|
|3||Derek Jeter||Yankees||10 years (2001-10)||$189 million|
|4||Manny Ramirez||Red Sox||8 years (2001-08)||$160 million|
|5||Todd Helton||Rockies||11 years (2001-11)||$141.5 million|
|6||Alfonso Soriano||Cubs||8 years (2007-14)||$136 million|
|7||Vernon Wells||Blue Jays||7 years (2008-14)||$126 million|
|8||Barry Zito||Giants||7 years (2008-14)||$126 million|
|9||Mike Hampton||Rockies||8 years (2001-08)||$121 million|
|10||Jason Giambi||Yankees||7 years (2002-08)||$120 million|
|* - Reported deal, not finalized|
Citing his comfort in New York, Rodriguez -- who would be 42 when the contract concludes -- confirmed that he approached the Yankees through a third-party intermediary.
"I reached out to the Yankees through mutual friends and conveyed that message," Rodriguez said. "I also understand that I had to respond to certain Yankees concerns, and I was receptive and understanding of that situation."Cynthia and I have since spoken directly with the Steinbrenner family. During these healthy discussions, both sides were able to share honest feelings and hopes with one another, and we expect to continue this dialogue with the Yankees over the next few days." The Times reported that two officials for global investment bank Goldman Sachs, John Mallory and Gerry Cardinale, were pivotal in brokering the peace between Rodriguez and the Steinbrenners, who were miffed at Rodriguez for opting out of his contract on Oct. 28.
Mallory works in Los Angeles and knows the Rodriguezes from Miami. The Rodriguezes reached out to Mallory, who called Cardinale, who is based in New York and has worked closely with the Yankees on the YES Network. Cardinale called Yankees president Randy Levine several days ago, and has since been instrumental in putting a deal together.
The Yankees were unconcerned that Rodriguez's overture could be a ploy to generate interest in the 11-time All-Star and probable 2007 American League MVP. While most clubs would love to add a player of Rodriguez's magnitude, teams with the financial wherewithal to realistically do it this offseason have proven scarce.Even the Players Association released a statement last week saying it was concerned that teams were colluding against Rodriguez by sharing monetary information about his status, a strict abrogation of the Basic Agreement. The Yankees originally backed away from Rodriguez after Game 4 of the World Series when Boras delivered word that Rodriguez had opted out of his contract and forfeited the remaining three years and $81 million on his deal. At the time, Steinbrenner dismissed talk of pursuing A-Rod, saying, "It's goodbye." Yankees general manager Brian Cashman reiterated numerous times that the Yankees could not fiscally pursue Rodriguez if he opted out, citing the loss of a $21 million subsidy the Rangers agreed to pay when the Yankees acquired him prior to the 2004 season in exchange for second baseman Alfonso Soriano. In fact, the makeup of the new deal, if it is signed, will probably have Rodriguez forgoing that money at the front end while the Yankees pay more per annum at the back end of the deal, a practice the club favors in its long-term contracts. Rodriguez, 32, is the clear-cut favorite to be named AL MVP when the award is announced on Monday. It would be Rodriguez's third time bringing home the honor in his career, and the second in four seasons as a member of the Yankees. Rodriguez led the Major Leagues in home runs (54), RBIs (156) and runs scored (143) in 2007, batting .314 with 24 stolen bases while helping the Yankees dig out of an early hole and attain the AL Wild Card before falling to the Indians in the AL Division Series. He also clubbed his 500th home run on Aug. 4 against the Royals, becoming the youngest player in history to reach that mark. His 518 career home runs already rank him 17th on the all-time list.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.