Friday marks the anniversary of a landmark in sports excess.
It was on this day 15 years ago that Alex Rodriguez and the Texas Rangers agreed to terms on a 10-year, $252 million contract whose extravagance chortled at every other sports contract in history. The numbers were staggering on Dec. 11, 2000, and they remain formidable a decade and a half after Rangers owner Tom Hicks and general manager Doug Melvin extended the offer.
Rodriguez and agent Scott Boras enjoyed an emphatic victory, and many observers believed Texas outbid competitors by a wide margin. When the 25-year-old shortstop was introduced as a member of the Rangers the following day, both sides pointed to huge expectations.
"Alex is the player we believe will allow this franchise to fulfill its dream of continuing on its path to becoming a World Series champion," Hicks cooed.
Rodriguez, who played his first seven MLB seasons with the Seattle Mariners, echoed the sentiment. "I feel a responsibility for what this contract entails," he said. "It's my responsibility to take this game to the next level, take this team to the next level."
With that in mind, here are 15 things to know on the 15th anniversary of the megadeal:
1. Other suitors
Aside from Texas, teams that reportedly expressed interest in signing Rodriguez included the Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox, Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets and Mariners. But few, if any, approached the financial neighborhood where the Rangers settled. After the Mets bowed out of contention, general manager Steve Phillips said Boras demanded a Shea Stadium office for his client and a tent at spring training that would sell Rodriguez merchandise exclusively.
2. A-Rod held up his end of the deal
During his three seasons in Texas, Rodriguez led the American League in home runs each year. He led the AL in total bases twice and was second once. He ranked first in the league in RBIs once and placed second and third the other years. He won the 2003 AL MVP award and Gold Gloves at shortstop in 2002 and 2003.
3. Texas taps out
The Rangers could only stomach the deal for three seasons. Melvin's successor, John Hart, traded Rodriguez to the New York Yankees in February 2004 for All-Star second baseman Alfonso Soriano and a player to be named later -- infielder Joaquin Arias. Texas agreed to assume $67 million of the $179 million remaining on the pact.
The deal came after a trade that would have sent Rodriguez to the Boston Red Sox was quashed when the players union objected to financial terms. If you have 20 minutes to spare, click here to watch the 30 for 30 short film "The Deal" about the failed Texas-Boston trade.
Nearly a dozen years later, that $67 million figure still stands as the largest amount absorbed by a team trading a burdensome contract. Only the $60 million swallowed by the Los Angeles Angels in the Josh Hamilton trade to Texas last year is even close.
4. Opting out
Rodriguez exercised his right to void the final three years of the contract after seven seasons, and agent Scott Boras revealed the news during the eighth inning of Game 4 of the 2007 World Series -- just as the rival Red Sox were putting the finishing touches on a sweep of the Rockies. Yankees executive Hank Steinbrenner initially said there was "no chance" the team would re-sign Rodriguez, but six weeks later Rodriguez inked a new 10-year, $275 million deal with New York.
5. Still a big deal
Among players in all U.S. team sports, only Giancarlo Stanton has clearly eclipsed either of Rodriguez's contracts in terms of total value. Last year, Stanton signed a back-loaded deal worth $325 million over 13 years with the Miami Marlins. Miguel Cabrera is also in the conversation, having signed a massive extension with the Detroit Tigers last year. Some observers view the Cabrera deal as a 10-year, $292 million pact, while others consider it an eight-year, $248 million extension.
6. Wins and losses
Although Rodriguez produced terrific stats for the Rangers, his success didn't improve the team as a whole. Texas finished last in the AL West all three years with Rodriguez, averaging 72 wins per season. During the previous three years, the Rangers averaged 85 wins, capturing AL West titles in 1998 and 1999 and finishing last in 2000. In the subsequent three years, the team averaged 83 wins and finished in third place each season.
7. No impact at turnstiles
The Rangers' average attendance during three years with Rodriguez was 2,425,937. For the previous three years, it was 2,762,423. For the subsequent three years, it was 2,475,888.
8. He was paid like an entire team
9. Pact cost more than Rangers
The contract value exceeded the $250 million Hicks paid for the Rangers, their ballpark and 270 acres of land surrounding the stadium less than three years earlier.
10. Twice as lucrative
The contract value doubled that of the previous richest sports contract, a six-year $126 million deal NBA star Kevin Garnett signed in 1997 with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
11. In comparison to peers ...
Two days before Rodriguez agreed to terms with Texas, the Rockies had given Mike Hampton the richest deal in baseball history at $121 million for eight years. That topped the nine-year, $116.5 million pact Ken Griffey Jr. had signed with the Cincinnati Reds in February 2000. Hours after A-Rod committed to the Rangers, Manny Ramirez accepted an eight-year, $160 million offer from the Red Sox.
12. In comparison to rank and file ...
The annual average of the Rodriguez contract was 126 times the minimum salary of $200,000 for the 2001 season and more than 11 times the average salary of $2,138,896 that season.
13. In comparison to other sports ...
At the time, the value of the contract equaled or exceeded the value of 18 MLB franchises, 25 NBA franchises and 27 NHL franchises, using Forbes franchise valuations.
14. The superagent
Boras was a minor league infielder for four seasons in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. He was a roommate of future Padres, Cubs and Nationals manager Jim Riggleman with the Double-A Arkansas Travelers in 1977.
After the deal was announced, apocalyptic forecasts about the sport's future abounded. A sampling of opinions:
MLB executive Sandy Alderson: "I'm kind of stupefied by the numbers. They're beyond alarming. ... Clearly we are in a crisis situation."
Cubs broadcaster Ron Santo: "I never thought there would come a day when a player would cost as much as you would pay for a team."
Braves general manager John Schuerholz: "There's no way in the world we were in position to be at that level. Nor did we have the desire to do that."
Astros general manager Gerry Hunsicker: "The sooner we run this up the flagpole, the sooner we get to D-Day and a catastrophic event."
Boras: "We don't need revenue sharing. We need intellect sharing."