Before Alex Rodriguez opted out of his contract with the Yankees earlier this week, the team was told that it would not be able to meet with the third baseman unless it presented an offer of at least $350 million, sources say.
The Yankees had hoped to meet with Rodriguez this week, and would have presented him with an extension offer close to five years and $150 million, to begin at the conclusion of his 2008-2010 contract, through which he would have earned $81 million. Through the Yankees' proposal, then, Rodriguez would have made about $230 million over eight years, and during the last five years of the contract, sources say, he would have earned the highest annual salary in Major League Baseball history.
But team executives were told, sources say, that in order to arrange a meeting with Rodriguez, they would have to be prepared to make an extension offer that would take the third baseman's deal up to a total value of $350 million. That means that the offer the Yankees intended to propose would have been more than $100 million short.
Rodriguez's agent, Scott Boras, sent the documentation of Rodriguez's intention to opt out of the contract to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman during Game 4 of the World Series, Cashman has said, and the GM did not speak with Boras until after news of the decision was published on SI.com.
The timing of how this played out, and the fact that Rodriguez did not meet with the Yankees to hear their offer before making his decision, has led some baseball officials to surmise that a deal with another team may already be in the works. In an interview with ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick on Thursday, Boras said, "We have had no economic discussions regarding Alex Rodriguez with any major-league team."
The Mets, Dodgers, Angels, Giants and Marlins are among the teams which have not publicly ruled out pursuing Rodriguez. Sources say it is highly unlikely that the Dodgers will seriously entertain the possibility.
Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.