As the New York Yankees and agent Scott Boras move toward a 10-year deal for Alex Rodriguez, the most important number is etched in stone: If Rodriguez achieves all the goals laid out for him, he will finish with a total payout of $314 million.
A source with knowledge of the negotiations said the two sides are getting "close" on a deal that will pay Rodriguez $275 million in guaranteed money, $30 million for milestones based on home runs, and $9 million in deferred money that the Texas Rangers owe Rodriguez in conjunction with his decision to opt out of his last contract.
In addition, the deal is front loaded, with Rodriguez expected to receive $32 million in each of the first three seasons. Boras and the Yankees are now down to negotiating the final contract language, the source said.
Rodriguez, 32, won his third career Most Valuable Player Award this season after hitting 54 homers and driving in 156 runs for the Yankees. Both he and Boras came in for major criticism when it was reported during Game 4 of the World Series that Rodriguez was opting out of the final three years of his deal with New York.
Rodriguez reportedly rekindled talks with the Yankees on his own on the advice of billionaire investor Warren Buffett. Now he's close to signing a deal that would easily eclipse the record 10-year, $252 million contract he signed with Texas in December 2000.
As the New York Times reported, Rodriguez will receive $30 million from the Yankees when he passes Willie Mays, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds on the all-time home run list. Rodriguez will receive $6 million for home run Nos. 660, 714 and 755, as well as the two home runs that tie and pass Bonds for the record.
Rodriguez, who has 518 home runs, needs 245 over the next 10 years to overtake Bonds's current total of 762. The chances of Bonds returning to play in 2008 and padding his total decreased significantly when he was indicted by a federal grand jury for perjury and obstruction of justice.
Teams are prohibited from paying bonuses to players based on statistical achievements, but Major League Baseball and the Players Association have apparently signed off on Rodriguez's bonuses because the Yankees are classifying his home runs as historical milestones.
"That mountain has been climbed," said a source.
As the Associated Press recently reported, Texas is obligated to fund $9 million as part of a deferred compensation provision in Rodriguez's old contract. The money will be paid to Rodriguez, with interest, in $3 million increments over the next three seasons.
Jerry Crasnick covers baseball for ESPN.com. His book "License To Deal" was published by Rodale. Click here to order a copy. Jerry can be reached via e-mail.