Thursday, July 12, 2007

A-Rod Opt Out

I realize that baseball does not fit in with the themes of this blog, but I feel compelled to comment on baseball in this case. I'm a Yankee fan -- a huge Yankee fan, and the sports reporters continue to miss the point about Alex Rodriguez's plans for opting out of his contract.

The prevailing wisdom is that A-Rod will opt out of his contract to get more money in a new contract. But this thinking misses a fundamental point about his contract situation. A-Rod will never exercise the opt out before negotiating a new deal. He has until Nov 10 to opt out. Once he exercises his opt out, he is basically kissing off the Yankees as a bidder for his services. Why would the Yankees pay him as much or more money AFTER they lose the subsidy from the Texas Rangers? Clearly, their bid will be higher before A-Rod opts out, because they can just pile money on top of the Rangers’ subsidy. So if he opts out, he’s kissing off $30MM in Ranger money that the Yanks can pay him.

Additionally, why would A-Rod's agent, Scott Boras, kiss off the $30MM subsidy when it could even be used by another ballclub. Here’s how: let’s say A-Rod gets deal terms with the Angels and Boras tells the Yanks to trade A-Rod to Angels for $15MM and some minor leaguers. Then Angels sign extension with A-Rod and the Rangers keep paying the subsidy. Everybody wins, except the Rangers (which have no negotiating leverage in this context).

Finally, if A-Rod opts out, he signals to other clubs that the Yanks are no longer a viable stalking horse. Why would the Angels pay top dollar if they know the Yankees aren’t bidding for his services as well? The Angels may be the only other club that would offer as rich a deal.

As a result, I can imagine A-Rod waiting until the end of the season, NOT opting out, but negotiating with all comers, then deciding whether he can get traded to preserve the subsidy or opting out if he doesn’t get the best deal from the Yanks. In fact, since the trade then sign scenario is probably unlikely, the most likely outcome is that A-Rod stays a Yankee because the Yanks are the only team that will have $30MM extra (of Texas Ranger money) with which to bid.

So please, sports reporters, for the love of Pete, please stop talking about A-Rod and his opt-out like you have a clue. You clearly don't.

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