|Sunday, December 10
Updated: December 21, 7:11 PM ET
A-Rod agrees to $252M deal with Rangers
ESPN.com news services
DALLAS -- The race for the most-prized free agent in baseball history is over.
Alex Rodriguez agreed to a 10-year, $252 million deal with the Texas Rangers. It is the largest contract in sports history.
"Alex is the player we believe will allow this franchise to fulfill its dream of continuing on its path to becoming a World Series champion," Rangers owner Tom Hicks said at a news conference Monday evening.
Hicks paid $250 million to buy the entire franchise three years ago from the group headed by George W. Bush and Rusty Rose.
"The Rangers are serious about winning," Texas general manager Doug Melvin said. "I know know expectations will be high. We're ready for that challenge."
Rodriguez will receive $21 million per season from 2001 through 2004, $25 million in 2005 and 2006, and then $27 million per for the remaining four seasons. After seven years, there is a mutual out clause in the contract that gives A-Rod the right to be a free agent again at age 32.
There is also a clause in the final two years that guarantees Rodriguez will be the highest-paid player in the game. He also gets a $10 million signing bonus that is to be paid out in one-year, $1 million installments.
"This amount of money spread out over 10 years could probably buy three franchises or so at the bottom end of market value," said Sandy Alderson, an executive vice president in the commissioner's office.
The deal, at its minimum level, is exactly double the previous record for a sports contract: a $126 million, six-year agreement in October 1997 between forward Kevin Garnett and the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves.
"At first they were talking about $200 million -- $250 (million) came out of nowhere," said Rodriguez's new teammate, Rafael Palmeiro. "It's just incredible."
The previous high for a baseball player was set just Saturday: a $121 million, eight-year contract between left-hander Mike Hampton and the Colorado Rockies.
Until then, baseball's largest deal had been a $116.5 million, nine-year contract agreed to in February by Ken Griffey Jr. and the Cincinnati Reds when Seattle traded the center fielder last February.
The news rippled through Dallas, where the sport's annual winter meetings were in their fourth day.
"Tom (Hicks, the team owner) wants to win and win badly," Rangers manager Johnny Oates said. "At our monthly meeting in August, Alex was a player he very much wanted in our organization."
In seven seasons with the Seattle Mariners, Rodriguez compiled a .309 career average with 189 homers and 595 RBI.
In February, Seattle traded Griffey to Cincinnati rather than risk him becoming a free agent after the 2000 season. The Mariners decided they would keep Rodriguez and try to re-sign him.
Seattle won the AL wild card and swept Central Division champion Chicago in the first round but the Yankees beat the Mariners 4-2 in the AL championship series.
In Texas, Rodriguez would join a team that has never gotten beyond the first round of the playoffs. He would join a team that already had signed three free agents in the first three days of the winter meetings: first baseman Andres Galarraga ($6.25 million), third baseman Ken Caminiti ($3.25 million) and right-hander Mark Petkovsek ($4.9 million).
After winning the AL West in 1999, its third division title in four years, Texas dropped to 71-91 and finished with a 5.52 ERA, the worst among the 30 major league teams.
Rodriguez falls short of the highest average salary. Shaquille O'Neal of the Los Angeles Lakers will average $29.5 million in an $88.5 million, three-year extension that starts with the 2003-04 season.
In his final year in the NBA, Michael Jordan made about $33 million.
"People are talking about the money, but you have to recognize the type of player he is and what he can accomplish," Oakland general manager Billy Beane said of Rodriguez. "And he's only 25 years old."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.