During the middle of Game 4 of the 2007 World Series -- before Biogenesis, before hip surgeries and before a year-long suspension -- it leaked that Alex Rodriguez exercised his option to opt out of the remaining three years of the $252 million contract he had originally signed with the Texas Rangers. A-Rod would be named American League MVP a month later after hitting 54 home runs and driving in 156 runs, and he assumed -- correctly, as it turned out -- that even though he'd turned 32 that season, he was in line for another huge contract.
The initial Associated Press story assumed Rodriguez would be gone and that the Yankees didn’t want to re-sign him, although then-agent Scott Boras said, "Our position is that we have told New York all along that we will continue discussions with them."
Rodriguez got his money. Ownership overruled general manager Brian Cashman and the front office, signing Rodriguez to a new 10-year, $275 million contract that would take him through his age-41 season. Cashman knew that was unlikely to end well, and he was right. While A-Rod did help deliver the Yankees a World Series in 2009, he had just one more season as a top-10 player in the American League and accumulated just 23.6 WAR over those 10 seasons.
Let’s be honest here: Alex Rodriguez has been a thorn in Cashman's side ever since signing that deal, from the performance-enhancing drug-related denials, apologies and suspension to the injuries to the benching in the 2012 ALCS to his improbable return last season and struggles this year. Mostly, he has been a huge drain on the Yankees’ payroll without the numbers to back it up.
You could almost sense the relief in Cashman’s comments during Sunday’s news conference, with several veiled digs at Rodriguez. For example:
"There’s been a lot of fair questions coming my way, coming the manager’s way, coming Alex Rodriguez’s way. We’re in a very big market, he’s a superstar that’s been struggling, so it put everyone on heightened alert, 'What’s next, what’s next?' ... I think it’s a new opportunity."
Yes, a great opportunity for Cashman to no longer deal with questions about Rodriguez.
"He gets everything he deserves, the contract he negotiated is in full force. Friday, he will play his last game, that’s the intention, and then a release after that will take place, and we’ll have somebody new on the 25-man roster and every aspect that he’s owed he will [be] paid as the contract states the rest of the way, without interruption."
Every. Last. Penny. Although maybe you want to confirm that with managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner.
"[Mark Teixeira] was down with injury for a while. While Tex was down, we lost our backup first baseman in February in [Greg] Bird, and then we lost our second backup in Dustin Ackley. And then I had to go get Ike Davis over here."
Dude couldn’t even play first base! We even had to sign Ike Davis. Ike Davis! Did you think I was happy to sign Ike Davis?
Asked about A-Rod feeling embarrassed sitting on the bench and whether it was necessary to make him feel like that: "I just executed my job description."
We’ve had to play Rob Refsnyder at first base! He’s not even a good hitter for a second baseman!
"If you’re asking if any teams had called me on Alex, for trade purposes, that has not happened. ... There’s been no trade talks. He’s been a DH.”
Do you guys even know anything about baseball? He’s a DH who can’t hit any more. Nobody wants him.
"The transition’s always taking place. Listen, I’ve got five World Series, four of those as GM, one as assistant GM."
Or ... four more rings than Alex.
"He sees talent, he assesses it accurately, he mentors guys, takes them under his wing, talks about mechanical adjustments, he gets together with various people -- Gary Denbo, major league coaching staff, Joe Girardi, our scouting personnel -- he loves that aspect of the game." -- Cashman discussing a story about Rodriguez recommending Manny Machado as a high school player.
Here, I'm betting Cashman’s brain wanders off, thinking about the 2018-19 offseason, when Machado is eligible for free agency.