Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez will retire from baseball and take a job with the organization as a special advisor and instructor, the club announced.
He will play his final game on Friday, August 12, and sign a new contract to work with the club running through the 2017 season. He will report directly to owner Hal Steinbrenner, with his role starting in the 2017 season.
Rodriguez, 41, held a press conference on Sunday to discuss the news. He was emotional as he reflected on his career.
“I love this game, and I love this team,” Rodriguez said. “Today, I’m saying goodbye to both. I never thought I could play for 22 years.”
Rodriguez also thanked his family, coaches and teammates in an opening statement.
“No athlete ever ends his or her career the way you want to. We all want to play forever. But it doesn’t work that way. Accepting the end gracefully is part of being a professional athlete. Saying goodbye may be the hardest part of the job, but that’s what I’m doing today.”
He said Steinbrenner reached out to him on Wednesday to begin discussing his transition. Rodriguez would not elaborate on details. “I can tell you I was incredibly humbled and flattered that he wanted me to spend time with the next generation of Yankees.”
It is unclear how much playing time Rodriguez will receive in what is now the final week of his career. He is four home runs away from 700.
“As far as milestones,” he said, “I would have had an unbelievable time trying to go after them...I would have had fun not only trying to hit home runs but help the team finish on a strong note. Those were not the cards I was dealt, and I’m at peace with the organization’s decision.”
“It’s been painful and embarrassing to sit on the bench,“ Rodriguez said when asked about his playing time. “It’s been awkward...management has told me I’ll get a few at-bats on Friday.”
Rodriguez retires as one of the most statistically prolific players in major league history, but also one of the most controversial. Sports Illustrated first reported in 2009 that Rodriguez tested positive for anabolic steroids in 2003, when he won the MVP award with the Rangers. He admitted to using them just 48 hours after SI’s report, in an interview with ESPN. At that time, he said he had not taken them since 2003.
A performance-enhancing drug-related suspension tied to his alleged involvement in the Biogenesis scandal caused Rodriguez to miss the entire 2014 season, further casting a shadow over his career numbers.
Rodriguez entered Sunday with a career batting average of .295, with 3,113 hits and 696 home runs (fourth-most all time) as a member of the Mariners, Rangers, and Yankees over a 22-year major league career. He is a three-time MVP winner and 14-time All-Star, leading the American League in home runs five times. He holds the all-time record for grand slams with 25, and is second in career RBIs with 2,094, trailing only Hank Aaron.
He entered the league as a prodigious 18-year-old shortstop with Seattle and rose to stardom there, before signing what was then the most lucrative contract in sports history — a 10-year, $252 million deal — with the Rangers ahead of the 2001 season. He was traded to the Yankees after the 2003 season and moved to third base, where Derek Jeter was already entrenched, and was a key part of New York’s World Series winning team in 2009.
Rodriguez has hit just .204 this season in 62 games. He hit 33 home runs playing full-time for the Yankees in 2015, but had been relegated to spot playing time as New York has begun to rebuild its team.