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From the archives: A-Rod signs $252 Million contract with Rangers

This story was originally published in Newsay on December 12, 2000

Dallas-Superstar shortstop Alex Rodriguez shattered all of baseball's monetary records when he signed a staggering 10-year, $ 252-million deal with the Texas Rangers yesterday. Baseball executives were astounded by the magnitude of the deal, which sent shock waves throughout the sport.

While agents around baseball were marveling at the handiwork of Rodriguez' marquee agent, Scott Boras, and some called it a sign of the sport's excellent health, a few club executives thought just the opposite, predicting Armageddon could be around the corner. "The sooner we run this up the flagpole, the sooner we get to D-Day and a catastrophic event," Astros general manager Gerry Hunsicker said.

Rodriguez' deal is monstrous by any measuring stick, but Rangers owner Tom Hicks showed how badly he wanted the shortstop by paying him more than he paid for the Rangers, who slumped badly this past season after making the playoffs the previous two years. Hicks, a cable TV baron, bought the Rangers, including the new stadium and surrounding 270 acres of land, for $ 250 million in January, 1998.

Rodriguez' contract, obtained by Newsday, includes several provisions that could add millions. The deal includes an escape clause for Rodriguez after seven years, escalators that will raise its value by at least $ 5 million the final two years and a complete no-trade clause. The present-day value of the deal is about $ 235 million because $ 36 million is deferred until after the contract expires.

Boras described Rodriguez, 25, as "one happy guy." When Rangers manager Johnny Oates followed Boras at the podium, Oates said: "This is one happy guy, too . . . Alex Rodriguez is a very, very, very special individual."

The Braves, Mariners and White Sox were among the final bidders for A-Rod, who batted .316 with 41 home runs and 132 RBI this past season, but none of them is believed to have come close to A-Rod's Rangers deal. The Braves refused to offer a no-trade provision, which effectively took them out of the bidding. The incumbent Mariners, who had lost Ken Griffey Jr. and Randy Johnson in recent years, weren't even in the same ballpark as the other three finalists, offering about $ 90 million for five years, it was learned.

The Mets never made an offer after pulling out of negotiations several weeks ago when their GM, Steve Philips, complained about the special perks Phillips said Boras was demanding. Boras said the Mets never were given a thought after they publicly revealed details of their negotiations and, according to Boras, distorted them. A source close to Rodriguez said he was angry at the Mets for making him look greedy. Boras said the Mets' claims "hurt all of us because it was not factual." None of these so-called "demands," which according to Mets people included billboards for A-Rod, his own office and public-relations staff, a tent to sell memorabilia in spring training and plane travel, appears in A-Rod's contract with the Rangers. Someone close to Boras said his client isn't even guaranteed a suite on the road, a privilege enjoyed by four Mets: Mike Piazza, Edgardo Alfonzo, Al Leiter and John Franco.

Phillips said he has "no regrets" about dropping out early and expressed doubt about whether Rodriguez is really perkless. "That's not what I heard," Phillips said. "We'll see."

Boras refuted Phillips' stated concern about the Mets becoming a team of "24 and 1," saying, "The Texas Rangers are 25. The proof is in the pudding."

Hicks also shot a hole in Phillips' theory, saying, "Never at any time did he ask for anything that any other player hasn't asked for," adding that Rodriguez would pay "full retail" for his boxes at American Airlines Center and The Ballpark at Arlington.

Boras didn't blame Phillips. "Employees get told what to do. It's very clear to me the owners of the Mets made their decision early on," Boras said. He said he knows it wasn't Phillips' call because "we met for 2 1/2 hours in Florida at the GM meetings without objection . . . Then after deliberating, they had objection."

With this contract, Rodriguez can purchase his own perks. He is to make $ 21 million annually from 2001 to 2004, $ 25 million from 2005-06 and $ 27 million from 2007-10. A unique trigger in the final two years of the deal will increase Rodriguez' salary by either $ 5 million or to $ 1 million above the sport's best-paid position player, whichever is greater. Carlos Delgado had been the sport's best-paid player at $ 17 million a year.

"We made every effort within the restrictions and structure of our club," Braves GM John Schuerholz said. "But there's no way in the world we were in position to be at that level, nor did we have the desire to do that."

Executives from Major League Baseball had much tougher words.

"You can't double the previous contract without considering the implications. It's certainly alarming," said Sandy Alderson, baseball's VP of operations. "Baseball has a right to survive in a form in which there is competition among as many teams as possible. We're losing that. For every Texas, there are five teams who traded their second baseman or starting rightfielder because they couldn't afford them."

The deal came together late Sunday night, when Boras zeroed in on the Rangers, who signaled a willingness to blow away their competition. Boras huddled with Hicks and Rangers GM Doug Melvin late into the evening. When they were done, the Rangers' hopes significantly improved. "Unreal, unbelievable" is the way Rangers first baseman Rafael Palmeiro described his excitement at hearing the news. The same is true of the contract.

ARLINGTON MILLIONS

A look at the man who shelled out more than a quarter of a billion dollars to secure Alex Rodriguez' services:

Thomas O. Hicks, 54, owner of the Texas Rangers, NHL Dallas Stars and Mesquite Championship Rodeo.

Former CEO of AMFM, one of the nation's largest radio broadcasters with 465 stations in 105 markets until it merged with Clear Channel Communications for $ 17.1 billion this year.

CEO of Dallas-based private investment firm Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Inc., which does leveraged buyouts.

Has investments in Regal Cinemas, computer wholesaler Globix and Triton Energy.

For the year 2000, Forbes magazine ranked him 382 out of the 400 richest Americans with a worth of $ 750 million.

Quarter-Billion Pounder

Based upon NBA and NHL franchise values determined by Forbes magazine for the year 2000, Alex Rodriguez could buy 27 NHL teams-all except the Rangers.

Rodriguez could buy 24 of the 29 NBA teams.

Rodriguez could buy Boeing's most expensive commercial jet, the 747-400, for between $ 182 million and $ 202 million.

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