The deal

  • LARRY LaRUE / The News Tribune
  • Monday, December 11, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports


The News Tribune

DALLAS – It wasn’t the money – more than twice the next highest contract in baseball history – that led free agent shortstop Alex Rodriguez to leave the Seattle Mariners and sign a 10-year deal with the Texas Rangers on Monday.

Instead, according to agent Scott Boras, the main reason Rodriguez accepted that 10-year, $252 million offer was the personal charm of Rangers owner Tom Hicks.

“We spent two days here after Thanksgiving, and Tom Hicks picked up Alex at the airport – picked his bags up and put them in his car – and they spent the better part of the next two days together,” Boras said. “Alex spent eight years in Seattle and never met the owner.”

And that made the difference?

“It wasn’t a positive,” Boras said.

On an emotional day for the Seattle Mariners executives here for the 2000 winter meetings, that explanation was nearly as galling as the loss of A-Rod, but not quite.

“I’ve watched Alex grow from a pup to one of the dominant players in the game,” manager Lou Piniella said. “This hurts. It’s a loss, and it hurts.”

Two days after ex-Mariner pitcher Mike Hampton signed the biggest deal in major league history, an eight-year $121 million contract with the Colorado Rockies, the Rangers more than doubled that in landing Rodriguez.

Though eight teams expressed interest initially, by the time A-Rod agreed to the Rangers deal only two teams had bids on the table – the Rangers and the Mariners.

And the Mariners’ offer wasn’t comparable.

“We knew (Sunday) that Scott wasn’t happy with the length or the amount in our offer,” Mariners general manager Pat Gillick said. “We had some wiggle room, but it wasn’t going to be a big wiggle.”

Unwilling to commit to a 10-year deal worth an average of $25 million a season, the Mariners offered the 25-year-old Rodriguez a five-year package that averaged $17 million a year and included incentives.

“They said they’d get back to us,” Gillick said Monday. “When they called us this morning, the train had left the station.”

Big-market teams like the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers had balked at making bids because of Rodriguez’s salary demands and contract stipulations, which included a salary escalator clause, a no-trade clause and an option to become a free agent again in seven years.

As for the “perks” that Boras discussed with Mets general manager Steve Phillips last month, items that so offended the team’s owner that he withdrew from further negotiation, none of that came up with Texas.

“Alex didn’t ask for anything any other player wouldn’t have asked for and gotten,” Hicks said. “He wanted suites for hockey and baseball, and bought them. He paid full price.”

Rodriguez, who made $4.3 million last season, is in for a dizzying change of salary. Including a signing bonus, which will be spread over the first five years of his contract, this is what A-Rod will be paid over the next 10 years:

  • $23 million in each of the first four seasons, on a club where no other player now makes more than $8 million.

  • $27 million in the fifth year.

  • $25 million in the sixth year.

  • $27 million in the seventh and eighth years.

  • $27 million over the last two seasons with one huge asterisk – he gets $1 million more than the highest paid player in the game or a $5 million raise over the eighth season, whichever is larger.

    If Rodriguez stays all 10 years, the deal will pay out $262 million, including the bonus clauses of the last two seasons. Over the life of the deal, $36 million will be deferred, and Rodriguez will be paid that money at three percent interest.

    “In real money, the contract is worth much more than $252 million,” Boras said. “How much more, I don’t want to say.”

    Rodriguez’s take on all this won’t be made public until today, when the Rangers hold another news conference, this one at The Ballpark at Arlington, to introduce their new shortstop.

    When the Rodriguez Derby began more than a month ago, the Rangers weren’t even on A-Rod’s radar screen.

    “All he knew about Arlington was the hotel, the ballpark and the parking lot,” Boras said. “That’s all he’d seen as a visiting player. The Rangers did a remarkable job of showing off their minor league system, the community – the hitting coach had lunch with Alex in the clubhouse during our visit, he met the whole hockey team.

    “When Alex left, he had a whole new vision about Arlington. That’s when I knew he was serious about the Rangers. What he found in Texas was a well-run organization, willing to admit where they’d been and able to show him where they were going.”

    At the end of the postseason, when the Mariners had lost to the New York Yankees in the American Legue Championship Series, Rodriguez had laid out what he expected from the team he would play for in 2001.

    “I want a team committed to winning, with a tradition of winning, with a strong minor league farm system,” he said in October. “Money isn’t the biggest factor, the ability to win is.”

    The Rangers won back-to-back division titles in 1998 and 1999, then finished in fourth place last season – 20 1/2 games behind the first-place Oakland Athletics, a fact Oakland GM Billy Beane noted.

    “I’m happy for Alex,” Beane said, “but he played in the American League West last year and we beat his team with the lowest payroll in the division. We’ll do it again next year.”

    Rangers GM Melvin had a different take.

    “Signing Alex sends a message throughout baseball that the Rangers are serious about winning,” he said. “We hope it’s this year.”

    “We signed him to a 10-year contract, and want him beyond that,” Hicks said. “Late in this contract, we’ll talk to him about an extension – we want him to play here the rest of his career.”

    Hicks was asked if he agreed with Boras, that his own personal charm and persuasiveness had made A-Rod a Texas Ranger.

    “Well, in Seattle the owner is a 72-year-old man who lives in Japan,” Hicks said. “I think (Alex) could relate to me.”

    Talk to us

  • More in Sports

    Spring 2023 All-Wesco teams

    Note: All-Wesco teams are chosen by the league’s coaches. For any misspellings… Continue reading

    Vote for The Herald’s Prep Athlete of the Week for May 22-28

    The Athlete of the Week nominees for May 22-28 Voting closes at… Continue reading

    AquaSox can’t make huge rally hold, lose to Hops

    Everett takes the lead with six runs in the eighth, but allows two runs back in the ninth and falls 13-12 to Hillsboro.

    The Everett Elite Flag Football 14-under team practices Sunday morning at Harbour Pointe Middle School in Mukilteo, Washington on January 16, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
    Community roundup: 3 Jackson grads to D-I baseball tournament

    Plus, Jayden White is headed back to the NCAA track and field nationals, the Silvertips sign their first-round picks and more.

    Washington's Sami Reynolds runs the bases against McNeese during an NCAA softball game on Saturday, May 20, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
    Local softball stars Reynolds, Mahler set for WCWS

    Washington’s Sami Reynolds (Snohomish) and Stanford’s River Mahler (Monroe) each play prominent roles on their Pac-12 teams.

    The Mariners’ Cal Raleigh smiles as a teammate throws bubblegum at him during an interview after Raleigh hit a single to drive in the winning run against the Yankees during the 10th inning of a game Wednesday in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)
    Raleigh’s RBI single in 10th gives M’s 1-0 win over Yankees

    George Kirby pitches one of the best games of his young career with eight shutout innings in Seattle’s 1-0 win.

    AquaSox top Hops on wild pitch in 11th inning

    Everett edges Hillsboro 3-2 in a game with strong pitching on both sides.

    Alberto Rodriguez.
    Rodriguez puts on power display, leads AquaSox to series win

    The 22-year-old outfielder mashed 11 extra-base hits, including six home runs, as Everett took five of seven from Eugene.

    Daniel Kim, left, and Ben Borgida, right, chat between holes during the Snohomish County Amateur golf tournament at the Everett Golf and Country Club in Everett, Washington on Monday, May 29, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
    Kim soars to 4-shot win in 92nd Snohomish County Amateur

    The WSU freshman and Kamiak graduate’s 12-under final total was the historic tournament’s lowest since at least 2010.

    Most Read