Selig gives blessing to mega-merger

NEW YORK -- It's official: Alex Rodriguez is a Yankee .

Commissioner Bud Selig approved the record-setting deal Monday,
allowing the reigning American League MVP to be traded to New York
by the Texas Rangers.

"I'm pretty excited. This is a big, big one," Yankees owner
George Steinbrenner said.

"It ranks with when we signed Reggie," he said, a reference to
when slugger Reggie Jackson joined the Yankees before the 1977

Texas will pay $67 million of the $179 million left on
Rodriguez's $252 million, 10-year contract, the most cash included
in a trade in major league history. The Rangers get All-Star second
baseman Alfonso Soriano and a player to be named -- but they also
will pay Rodriguez through 2025.

"I am very concerned about the large amount of cash
consideration involved in the transaction, and the length of time
over which the cash is being paid," Selig said.

"I want to make it abundantly clear to all clubs that I will
not allow cash transfers of this magnitude to become the norm.
However, given the unique circumstances, including the size, length
and complexity of Mr. Rodriguez's contract and the quality of the
talent moving in both directions, I have decided to approve the

The players' association gave its approval to the trade on Sunday.

The Rangers will pick from a pool of five prospects, four of whom have been determined, according to a Baseball America report that references "baseball sources." The magazine says the four known candidates are: pitcher Ramon Ramirez, outfielder Rudy Guillen, shortstop Joaquin Arias and second baseman Robinson Cano.

Rodriguez will move from shortstop, a position at which he's
been a seven-time All-Star, to third base, where he will replace
injured Aaron Boone. The Yankees will keep captain Derek Jeter at

"Jeter is the captain. He is the leader," Steinbrenner said at
the team's minor league complex in Tampa, Fla.

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Jeter didn't comment on the deal after his workout, with the
team saying Steinbrenner would be the only one to speak to
reporters in Tampa.

Both Jeter and Yankees manager Joe Torre were expected to attend
Tuesday's news conference at Yankee Stadium to introduce Rodriguez.
Torre will miss the first day of spring training.

"It's not about winning 112 or 114 regular-season games, it's about winning 11 games in the postseason," Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson told the New York Post on Sunday. "You need guys that will help you win the last 11 games. We were the only team in baseball with the [guts] to pull it off and take the chance."

Steinbrenner praised Rodriguez's decision to move to third.

"I was very impressed. He's an outstanding young fellow. He'll
be very big in New York," Steinbrenner said.

The position shift won't be the only change for A-Rod. He won't be able to wear No. 3, his only big-league number so far, because the Yankees retired that number to honor Babe Ruth.

Rodriguez will wear No. 13, according to a New York Times report that cites "a source familiar with the situation." He chose not to take the popular "double" route and wear No. 33, which recently has been worn by David Wells and, coincidentally, by Soriano.

Rodriguez, who waived his no-trade clause, was desperate to play
for a winner.

"I don't think he ever thought about playing another position
until the concept came up," said Rodriguez's agent, Scott Boras.
"He decided it didn't make a difference -- shortstop, third base,
center field. He wanted the opportunity to play on a competitive

The Rangers will wind up paying $140 million for three seasons
with Rodriguez, an average of $46.7 million annually for three
last-place finishes in the AL West. The Yankees will owe him $112
million over seven years.

"Since the end of last season we said we would not trade Alex
unless it made sense for our organization," Texas Rangers general
manager John Hart said.

"This deal is a win-win-win situation for the Rangers, the
Yankees and Alex Rodriguez. This trade is about flexibility. We've
traded the best player in the game, and we're getting tremendous
financial flexibility."

"We asked if we could achieve a championship faster doing this
deal or not making this deal," Rangers owner Tom Hicks said.
"We felt we could make it faster doing this deal."

Baseball's biggest spenders will raise their payroll to about
$190 million.

"The disparity is not healthy for the sport," Arizona Diamondbacks owner Jerry Colangelo said. "But everyone runs their
team the way they see fit, and they did it by the rules."

Boras said the possibility of a trade first came up last Monday
while he was talking to the Yankees about another player. Boras
then called Rodriguez.

"I said, 'There may be an opportunity. We have to talk about
your goals, about winning,'" Boras recalled telling his client.

"He called me back Tuesday and discussed it further and said,
'Why don't you call Tom Hicks and let him know we're
ready to do that,'" Boras said.

Trade talks began the following day, and the sides reached the
agreement Sunday.

"I really struggled with it," Hicks told the Dallas Morning News on Sunday. "But a window started developing. Alex decided it was an opportunity for him. And once we got the dollars right, we decided it was an opportunity for us. But we had turned this thing down three times before we even started taking it seriously.

"Once we got the dollars right, I asked both [GM] John Hart and [assistant GM] Grady Fuson separately if they thought this would help make us better faster. They both said it would."

Under the deal, the Yankees pay Rodriguez $15 million in each of
the next three seasons, $16 million each in 2007 and 2008, $17
million in 2009 and $18 million in 2010, according to contract
information obtained by the AP from player and management sources.

In each of the first four years, $1 million will be deferred
without interest, to be paid in 2011.

The trade calls for Texas to pay $43 million of Rodriguez's
salary over the remaining seven years: $3 million in 2004, $6
million each in 2005, 2006 and 2010, $7 million apiece in 2007 and
2009 and $8 million in 2008. In addition, the Rangers will pay the
$24 million remaining in deferred money from the original contract,
with the interest rate lowered from 3 percent to 1.75 percent.

All the deferred money owed by Texas -- $36 million including
salaries from 2001 to 2003 -- will be lumped with the original $10
million signing bonus, of which $4 million is still owed. The
payout schedule will be pushed back to 2016-2025 from 2011-20.

In exchange for the alterations, which devalue the present-day
value of the contract by $5 million, Rodriguez will receive a hotel
suite on road trips, have the right to link his Web site to the
Yankees' site and get a guarantee that the deferred money won't be
wiped out by a work stoppage.

Boras said that as part of the deal, the Rangers will buy
Rodriguez's home in Texas and his luxury suites at The Ballpark in
Arlington and American Airlines Center.

Although the Rangers appointed Rodriguez team captain on Jan. 25,
Boras said that once Texas decided to go with younger players, it
became apparent a change was needed.

"Because of the change in direction in payroll in Texas, we
didn't think Alex was the fit there he was before," he said.
"This trade was a situation that would benefit everybody."

Information from The Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.