- The Washington Times - Monday, February 16, 2004

NEW YORK — Alex Rodriguez is one step from putting on the pinstripes.

The New York Yankees and Texas Rangers finalized the terms of their shocking trade yesterday, and the players’ association approved the deal for the American League MVP.

All that remains is for baseball commissioner Bud Selig to give his OK, which the teams expect today. The Yankees planned a news conference tomorrow in New York to introduce the newest prize in their collection of multimillionaire All-Stars.

“I was just as surprised as the Yankee fans and the Boston Red Sox fans when I opened up my paper today,” President Bush, the Rangers’ former owner, told NBC at the Daytona 500. “It, obviously, is a big deal. … A-Rod’s a great player and the Yanks are going to be a heck of a team with him in the infield.”

Texas will pay $67million of the $179million left on Rodriguez’s record $252million, 10-year contract, and will get All-Star second baseman Alfonso Soriano and a player to be named.

Rodriguez will move from shortstop, a position where he’s been a seven-time All-Star, to third base, where he will replace injured Aaron Boone. The Yankees will keep their captain, Derek Jeter, at shortstop.

“I don’t think he ever thought about playing another position until the concept came up,” said Rodriguez’s agent, Scott Boras. “He decided it didn’t make a difference, shortstop, third base, center field. He wanted the opportunity to play on a competitive team.”

The Rangers will wind up paying $140million for three seasons with Rodriguez, an average of $46.7million annually for three last-place finishes in the AL West. The Yankees will owe him $112million over seven years.

Baseball’s biggest spenders will raise their payroll to about $190million.

“The disparity is not healthy for the sport,” Arizona Diamondbacks owner Jerry Colangelo said. “But everyone runs their team the way they see fit, and they did it by the rules.”

Boras said the possibility of a trade first came up last Monday while he was talking to the Yankees about another player. Boras then called Rodriguez.

“I said, ‘There may be an opportunity. We have to talk about your goals, about winning,’ ” Boras recalled telling his client.

“He called me back Tuesday and discussed it further and said, ‘Why don’t you call [Texas owner] Tom Hicks and let him know we’re ready to do that,’” Boras said.

Trade talks began the following day, and the sides reached the agreement yesterday.

Under the deal, the Yankees will pay Rodriguez $15million in each of the next three seasons, $16million each in 2007 and 2008, $17million in 2009 and $18million in 2010, according to contract information obtained by the AP from player and management sources.

In each of the first four years, $1million would be deferred without interest, to be paid in 2011.

The trade calls for Texas to pay $43million of Rodriguez’s salary over the remaining seven years: $3million in 2004, $6million each in 2005, 2006 and 2010, $7million apiece in 2007 and 2009 and $8million in 2008. In addition, the Rangers will pay the $24million remaining in deferred money from the original contract, with the interest rate lowered from 3 percent to 1.75 percent.

All the deferred money owed by Texas — $36million, including salaries from 2001 to 2003 — will be converted to an assignment bonus, which makes the money guaranteed against a strike or lockout. The payout schedule will be pushed back to 2016-25 from 2011-20.

In exchange for the alterations, which devalue the present-day value of the contract by $5million, Rodriguez will receive a hotel suite on road trips, have the right to link his Web site to the Yankees’ site and get a guarantee the deferred money won’t be wiped out by a work stoppage.

Boras said that as part of the deal, the Rangers will buy Rodriguez’s home in Texas and his luxury suites at The Ballpark in Arlington and American Airlines Arena.

While the Rangers appointed Rodriguez team captain on Jan.25, Boras said that once Texas decided to go with younger players, it became apparent a change was needed.

“Because of the change in direction in payroll in Texas, we didn’t think Alex was the fit there he was before,” he said. “This trade was a situation that would benefit everybody.”

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