A-Rod won't negotiate with Yankees before season ends

After the New York Yankees on Wednesday indicated they would depart from procedure and negotiate during the season with Alex Rodriguez on a contract extension, the slugger swiftly reiterated that he isn't interested in talking contract until after the season.

"Like I've said all year, I think it's something we'll do at the end of the year," Rodriguez said Thursday before the Yankees opened a four-game series at Tampa Bay with a 7-3 win over the Devil Rays.

The Yankees, however, have indicated to Rodriguez and his agent, Scott Boras, that if the player opts out, his days as a Yankee will be over. A source to ESPN The Magazine's earlier this week the Yankees have no intention of being part of a bidding war if Rodriguez decides to opt out his current contract.

Rodriguez has 3½ seasons left on his record $252 million, 10-year deal, but has the right to opt out this fall and become a free agent -- a decision the slugger would have to make within 10 days of the
conclusion of the World Series. That would be Nov. 10 at the latest.

Rodriguez is owed $24 million in each of the next three seasons by the Yankees, with Texas offsetting much of the money by paying New York $8,116,000 next year, $7,101,500 in 2009 and $6,087,000 in 2010. He is guaranteed an additional $3 million annually by the
Rangers, the original deferred money in his contract that was converted to an assignment bonus at the time of his trade to the Yankees.

The Yankees, who have won nine consecutive AL East titles, have been hampered by injuries to key players and trail the Boston Red Sox by 10 games.

A-Rod, however, has rebounded from a subpar 2006. He leads the major leagues with 31 homers and 87 RBIs -- his 31st home run coming in Thursday's first game of the second half of the season -- and is batting .317.

"I think it would be selfish on my part to talk about my contract status when our team desperately needs wins," Rodriguez said, responding to the reports that the Yankees would like to begin extension talks with him. "My goal is to win as many games as we can, focus on my teammates and really play at a real high level in the second half. That sort of thing I leave to the people upstairs. My only concern is to play baseball and play at a high level."

Does that mean that no matter what, he will not negotiate before the season ends?

"Correct," Rodriguez said.

Boras said Rodriguez will not take up the Yankees' offer to negotiate before the season ends.

"We are not going to be negotiating during the season," Boras said. The agent insisted he could see no way that strategy will change, saying "This is Alex's decision. This has been his policy, and I fully expect this to continue to be his policy."

Even if his client doesn't go the opt-out route, Boras told the New York Post that there are existing stipulations in the current deal that all but guarantee Rodriguez would earn a minimum of $32 million in both the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

"The way the provision operates, he either gets that or he can become a free agent after any of those seasons again," Boras told the newspaper.

Two other Yankee mainstays, closer Mariano Rivera and catcher Jorge Posada also could become free agents at the end of the season.

Rivera said he has not had any talks with the Yankees during the season. He said he's fine with that, and that he wouldn't be upset if the team initiated talks with Rodriguez before turning attention to him.

"That's the Yankees' business. They have to do whatever they
have to do. It's none of my business," Rivera said. "I have a job, and we'll see what happens."

Information from ESPN The Magazine MLB writer Buster Olney and The Associated Press was used in this report.