By LARRY LaRUE
The News Tribune
The News Tribune
DALLAS – The Texas Rangers signed free agent shortstop Alex Rodriguez to the most lucrative contract in major league history today – a $252 million deal that was more than twice the next highest ever offered – and left the Seattle Mariners to cope with yet another franchise-rocking departure.
Two years ago, the Mariners traded Randy Johnson. Last year, it was Ken Griffey Jr. And today, A-Rod left through free agency after turning down the Mariners’ final offer.
“It’s over,” manager Lou Piniella said today at the winter meetings. “It breaks your heart, but what can you do? He made his decision; now we’ll have to move on.”
Rodriguez, 25, brought more to the Rangers than a heart-of-the-lineup hitter who also happened to be a solid defensive shortstop.
“I’ve heard the Rangers mentioned more in the last two days than in the last two years,” manager Johnny Oates said. “Alex brings you all that talent, all that leadership and something more: recognition.”
The A-Rod sweepstakes ended in Texas in part because so few teams on his “A” list figured in the bidding. The New York Mets backed out early when agent Scott Boras offended general manager Steve Phillips by discussing perks along with money.
And the Braves and Dodgers, believed to be contenders for Rodriguez, never made an offer.
In the end, it came down to Seattle and Texas, and when the Mariners wouldn’t match that price tag – or the three-year escape clause A-Rod wanted – the shortstop went to the Rangers, a team that finished 20 games behind the Mariners last season.
Rodriguez was flying into Dallas today to participate in a press conference scheduled for 7 p.m. CST (5 p.m. PST).