Alex Rodriguez started his career as a 19-year-old rookie with the Seattle Mariners. He played with them for 7 years producing at an All-Star level and considered one of the best pure baseball talents of all time. He became a full-time player in his third year. In that year, he batted .358 with 36 home runs and 123 RBIs. Except for one year when an injury restricted him to 126 games and he hit .285, he always batted over .300. He hit over 40 home runs three times. His lowest RBI total was a light 84 RBIs while he regularly exceeded 110. After three years on the minimum pay of $442,000, his salary gradually increased until it reached $4.3 million in his seventh year.
In 2001 as a free agent, he signed a 10-year 252 million dollar contract with the last place Texas Rangers. He played three seasons with the Rangers and performed spectacularly. He batted .318, .300 and .298. In those years he hit 52, 57, and 47 home runs. His RBIs were 135, 142 and 118. The problem for the Rangers was that despite great numbers, the Rangers finished in last place each year even though he won the MVP in 2003. It was almost as if they didn’t have money left over to pay other players.
The Rangers discovered that one great player never equals first place so they went out to find a trade partner to hopefully turn their one all time great player into a team that could compete. They found their partner in the deep pocketed Yankees. The Rangers received Alphonso Soriano and Joaquin Arias and in turn agreed to pay Rodriguez 67 million dollars of the 179 million dollars still owed, upping the amount that they believed Soriano and Arias were worth. To the Yankees credit, they were getting Rodriguez for about 16 million dollars per year.
After playing 4 seasons with the Yankees, he won the MVP in 2005 and 2007. His numbers in 2007 were other worldly, leading the league in the following categories and dominating the MVP voting.
143 runs, 54 home runs, 156 RBI, .645 slugging, 1.067 OPS, .376 total bases.
He also batted .314, had an on base percentage of .422 and stole 24 bases. At 16 million dollars the Yankees were printing money and the Rangers were subsidizing it.
In the contract, Rodriguez had the option of declaring for free agency after the 2007 season. During the 2007 World Series he announced that he was doing exactly that.
THE BIG DAY
Imagine you are sitting across the table from a 32 year old player who has dominated the league. They have three years left of a contract paying them a quarter of a billion dollars and they have declared for free agency. Your fans are demanding you sign this player again… but they are asking you to sign them until they are 42 years old. They want a ten year contract and they want more than the last contract.
The Yankees signed.
In 2008 Alex Rodriguez signed a new 10-year contract for $275 million. This voided his previous 2001 contract. The Yankees were on the hook for the entire new contract with a 32 old player.
Baseball players don’t get better after 32 years old. They may change their approach to the game so they can have a longer career but they generally don’t get better. Rodriguez was no different.
Starting in 2009, his average dropped under .300 and never surpassed it again for the rest of his career. His home run total stayed over 30 for three years, but after that he only surpassed 30 home runs in 2015. He never had 100 RBI after 2010. His decrease in production amplified due to a lack of playing time. In 2013 he only played in 44 games. In 2014 he was suspended for the whole season for using performance enhancing drugs in a crazy over covered settlement agreement.
The only winner of 2014 was the Yankees who did not have to pay his salary for that year. He was 39 years old when he returned to the team in 2015 with three years left on his contract. He played two years being used exclusively as a designated hitter. After 2 years he stopped playing due to hip and knee injuries. In the final years of his contract the Yankees paid him $21 million a year to be an “advisor”.
SUM IT UP
Alex Rodriguez completely under performed in his Yankee contract. The Yankees won a World Series in 2009. That was the only World Series victory in Alex Rodriguez’s 23 year career. In that World Series he batted .250 with 1 home run. For this the Yankees paid him a total of $345 million dollars over 12 seasons of work averaging $28.75 million a year for his service.
In that time he batted .283, hit 351 home runs had 1096 RBI and stole 152 bases. Basically the career of Greg Vaughn or Curtis Granderson.
There was so much more that was a part of that contract than just numbers. Rodriguez brought drama with teammate Derek Jeter, the steroid scandals, and at the end of his career the Yankees simply couldn’t get him to step away for players who could help the team more. Alex Rodriguez drives emotion both good and bad but there is nothing good when a baseball team is signing a player to a ten-year contract that begins when he is 32 years old.