The last time the Yankees had an open casting call for third basemen, I spent three weeks poring over the team's options only to have Alex Rodriguez swoop down and render it all meaningless. A bit gun shy from that experience, I'd held off pouring over the Yankees' third base options this offseason until yesterday morning. Thankfully it only took a few hours for Rodriguez to strike me moot once again.
After an exciting day in which rumors slowly coalesced into truths, we were left with the knowledge that Rodriguez and the Yankees are hammering out the details on a ten-year deal worth something in the area of $275-280 million. SI.com's Jon Heyman, who broke the news of Rodriguez opting out, seems to have the best inside info as of this writing. One key detail is that, though Rodriguez initiated talks with the Yankees without his agent, Scott Boras is indeed involved in hammering out the details (something the union made sure of). From Heyman:
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.
The Yankees' spin on this sudden about-face was that they didn't go back on their word not to pursue Rodriguez after he opted out. Rather, Rodriguez came crawling back to them. In the words of Hank Steinbrenner, "Alex reached out to us. He wants to be a Yankee. . . . he made clear he's willing to sacrifice something." What that something is remains unclear.
The best guess at what's going on in Rodriguez's head that I've read thus far is Sweeny Murti's take on his blog (of course, Sweeny botches it up with an addendum that wildly overstates Mariano Rivera's value both past and present). As for the contract, Baseball Prospectus's Joe Sheehan, writing prior to much of the above action, sums it up well (bear in mind that BP actually has a stat that measure players' value in dollars, so the following assessment of Rodriguez's worth is most likely based some on actual number crunching.):
If you can sign Alex Rodriguez, you do so; he's worth somewhere around the $30 million a year he's supposedly asking for to a team that's on the brink of contention right now. His decline phase may well be worth that kind of money as well, given where the marginal value of a win is headed, and the additional revenues that Rodriguez can generate as he chases down some of the game's most hallowed records.
Me, I'll wait until the deal is final and I hear Rodriguez speak before adding my two cents. I just hope that the new contract doesn't include any of those pesky opt-out clauses, at least not for the first three-to-five years.