10/29/2007 2:51 AM ET
A-Rod opting out of contract
Newly crowned Aaron Award winner ends Yankees tenure
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
A-Rod will forfeit the final three years and approximately $81 million on his record $252 million contract. (AP)
NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez has opted out of the final three years of his contract with the Yankees and will become a free agent, likely ending his four-year stay in New York.
Rodriguez's decision was first reported by Sports Illustrated's Web site on Sunday evening. According to the report, agent Scott Boras sent word of the opt-out in writing and left phone and text messages for general manager Brian Cashman on Sunday.
Boras later confirmed the opt-out in an e-mail sent to the Associated Press. The decision was made public during Game 4 of the World Series.
Rodriguez, this season's likely American League Most Valuable Player, will be forfeiting the final three years and approximately $81 million on his record $252 million contract.
The Yankees have said numerous times that if Rodriguez opts out, they will not pursue him as a free agent, sentiments that were voiced earlier this month by both senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner and Cashman.
"Alex made the decision today," Boras told SI.com. "I thought we should notify the club."
Cashman did not immediately return a telephone message.
Yankees Senior Vice President Hank Steinbrenner reiterated the club's stance to the New York Daily News.
"We're not going to back down," Steinbrenner said. "It's goodbye."
The Yankees had been constructing what figured to be a lucrative contract extension in order to keep Rodriguez, who led the Major Leagues with 54 home runs, 156 RBIs and 143 runs scored this season, batting .314 while helping the team to the AL Wild Card.
According to the report, the Yankees were never able to present the offer. Through Boras, Rodriguez -- who had said numerous times during the course of the season that he "loves" New York and wants to stay -- turned down a request to meet with club officials.
"It's clear he didn't want to be a Yankee," Hank Steinbrenner told the Daily News. "He doesn't understand the privilege of being a Yankee on a team where the owners are willing to pay $200 million to put a winning product on the field.
"I don't want anybody on my team that doesn't want to be a Yankee."
Boras told the Web site that Rodriguez felt he could not make a decision to stay in his allotted time period -- technically, he had until 10 days after the World Series to trigger his opt-out -- since a number of situations remain unsettled for the Yankees.
The club has not yet named Joe Torre's successor, though either Joe Girardi or Don Mattingly is likely to be announced as the new manager early this week. Having conducted an interview process over three days last week in Tampa, the team has also not yet made significant progress with such key free agents as Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte.
"Alex's decision was one based on not knowing what his closer, his catcher and one of his statured pitchers was going to do," Boras told the Associated Press. "He really didn't want to make any decisions until he knew what they were doing."
Following the Yankees' AL Division Series loss to the Cleveland Indians, Rodriguez and his wife, Cynthia, spent time at Boras' Newport Beach, Calif., estate for an information-gathering and strategy-planning session. Boras also visited Rodriguez last week in Miami as he mulled his future.
Rodriguez was named as the AL's Hank Aaron Award winner on Sunday prior to Game 4 of the World Series, but he was not present for the ceremony at Colorado's Coors Field. Commissioner Bud Selig said that Rodriguez had a scheduling conflict.
Rodriguez, 32, was acquired by the Yankees from the Texas Rangers on Feb. 16, 2004, with cash, in exchange for Alfonso Soriano and a Minor League player. The Yankees had said that pursuing Rodriguez as a free agent would not financially make sense because they would lose the approximately $21 million still owed to them by the Rangers over the final three seasons of the contract.
"If it's true, that's obviously good news from our standpoint," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "But I'm going to wait to hear about it officially."
If indeed Rodriguez's Yankees career is over, he leaves New York having played in 629 games over four seasons with the Yankees, batting .302 with 173 home runs and 513 RBIs.
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