In a stunning twist, Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees are discussing a deal that seems very likely to put the superstar third baseman back in pinstripes only two weeks after team officials had said "good-bye'' to baseball's best everyday player.
A 10-year megadeal for about $280 million -- yet another record contract for A-Rod -- is expected to be completed in the next day or two.
There is a great deal of optimism that an accord can be struck soon, as the sides were down to discussing incentive monies and contract language, an indication they possibly were in the final stages of negotiation. But while an agreement seemed extremely likely, both sides cautioned late Wednesday that it had yet to be completed.
The new contract is likely to include an unprecedented incentive package that could put the total package at well over $300 million. It's the right deal for the Yankees in any case, since there would have been no way to replace A-Rod's 54 home runs and 156 RBIs, they didn't love the other third-base options and they cringed at the idea of trading a top young starting pitcher like Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes for Marlins wunderkind Miguel Cabrera.
Rodriguez's agent, Scott Boras, was in negotiations Wednesday with top Yankees people in an effort to wrap up what will be the biggest individual contract in sports history, easily eclipsing A-Rod's former $252 million deal, despite its circuitous route to this point. But while the deal will easily surpass the eight-year, $220 million proposal the Yankees seemed prepared to offer before Rodriguez opted out, it will also be short of the $350 million figure he was reportedly hoping to land.
Rodriguez reinitiated dialogue with the Yankees a few days ago by going to Hank and Hal Steinbrenner and expressing his interest in remaining a Yankee. That got the ball rolling.
"Alex reached out to us,'' Yankees partner Hank Steinbrenner told SI.com. "He wants to be a Yankee.''
It appears A-Rod will get his wish, assuming the sides can clear the final few monetary hurdles.
"Alex and Cynthia visited with the Steinbrenners and Yankees officials, and following that meeting, Alex has instructed me to discuss contractual terms with the Yankees,'' Boras said in a statement.
This story has undergone a major turnaround considering it was only two weeks ago that Rodriguez opted out of his first record $252 million contract and Yankees people responded then by declaring that they would not re-enter negotiations. According to Steinbrenner, Rodriguez reached out through an undisclosed third party in an effort to rekindle talks and personally make clear his interest in remaining in pinstripes. Since the Yankees still needed a third baseman, they appreciated the gesture. Both sides were willing to compromise.
"Obviously, he made clear he's willing to sacrifice something,'' Hank Steinbrenner said in the phone interview with SI.com.
But so have the Yankees. The new deal will be close to $60 million above what they originally tried to offer, and the Yankees no longer enjoy the benefit of Rangers owner Tom Hicks' $21 million subsidy, which was lost once Rodriguez opted out. Of course, it isn't known whether the Yankees intended to increase their original $220 million proposal before A-Rod opted out since the clause was exercised quickly.
Rodriguez, who will be 42 at the close of the contract, also will fall short of a $300 million goal, which might have been possible had he played out his full free agency. But by opting out, Rodriguez was able to utilize the threat of free agency, and in an irony eventually allow himself to remain where he wanted to be. He also received an additional $9 million from Texas, as per the opt-out clause in the original Rangers contract.
Yankees people denied suggestions in a report that Rodriguez was handling the situation solo, saying Boras, his longtime agent, was intimately involved. Boras has been with A-Rod in Miami the past four days.
Rodriguez and the Yankees appeared to have parted ways two weeks ago when the Yankees publicly bid him adieu after he opted out of his 10-year, $252 million contract. At that time, Hank Steinbrenner said publicly that it was "good-bye'' to A-Rod, and other club officials also repeated their stance that they would not re-enter negotiations after the opt-out clause was exercised, though in somewhat less colorful terms.
However, there was a realization on the part of both parties that the marriage of A-Rod and the Yankees was worth saving.