Mets say no to A-Rod’s demands

  • Monday, November 13, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

Associated Press

The New York Mets pulled out of the Alex Rodriguez sweepstakes on Monday, saying some of his contract requests would make him unable to fit in with the rest of the team.

“It’s about 25 players working as a team,” Mets general manager Steve Phillips said. “The 24 plus one-man structure really doesn’t work. I don’t mean to cast aspersions on Alex Rodriguez. … But I don’t think you can give different rules and separate one player from the rest of the team.”

Rodriguez, perhaps the most desirable free agent ever to hit the open market, has many contract demands beyond the more than $200 million he is expected to receive.

Agent Scott Boras has told teams that Seattle offers office space in the stadium for players to use and inquired about whether that would be possible with a new team as well.

Phillips said Boras also asked for other perks wouldn’t work on a team that already has stars like Mike Piazza, Al Leiter and Edgardo Alfonzo.

“It would compromise the fabric of the team,” Phillips said. “It might be different in a different city without the same caliber of players. I understand why Scott is asking for it. He is a very unique player who is one of the best or the best in the game.”

Boras, who pointed out that the Piazza’s contract gives him use of a luxury suite if the Mets build a new stadium, said he has not asked for special treatment.

“Alex Rodriguez has requested nothing,” Boras said. “I advised Steve that there was nothing in the Seattle contract and nothing in future contracts that would ask for special amenities.”

The Mets had been believed to be the favorite for Rodriguez’s services, The New York Yankees, almost always involved with the biggest free agents, already have All-Star Derek Jeter entrenched at shortstop and won’t be involved. The Los Angeles Dodgers’ already bulging payroll might keep them on the sidelines in the bidding.

That leaves only a couple of teams willing and able to pay the steep price. Seattle, the Chicago White Sox, Colorado and Atlanta are believed to be the favorites.

“Anybody who knows Alex Rodriguez knows that he would thrive anywhere in the major leagues,” Boras said. “His only concern is playing on a competitive, committed team. Anything else does not bother him.”

Rodriguez is looking for a 12-year contract worth at least $20 million annually. He also wants escalator clauses built into the deal to ensure that his salary doesn’t fall behind other players and out clauses that let him leave if the team can no longer compete.

Phillips initially met with Boras last Tuesday at the general managers meetings in Amelia Island, Fla. After hearing the demands, Phillips conferred with co-owners Fred Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday last week and determined to cut off negotiations. Phillips said he notified Boras of the Mets’ plans on Monday.

“He understood. He said we weren’t the only club that voiced similar concerns,” Phillips said.

Phillips said that even if Rodriguez backed off on some of his demands, he didn’t expect the Mets to get back into the bidding because he is uncertain that Rodriguez could succeed without being handled the way the Mariners did.

“I’m not sure that it can change at this point,” Phillips said. “In New York, the situation would more likely have to be enhanced rather than reduced to make him function. I can’t anticipate any change that would draw us back into it.”

The Mets also have closed the gap with free agent pitcher Rick Reed, raising their offer to about $20 million over three years. Reed is looking for a four-year deal, but probably would be willing to settle for a three-year contract with an option.

“It’s one I’ll stay on and continue dialogue and hope to bring to a positive conclusion,” Phillips said.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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