Vaught's Views: Rodriguez trade all about the money

February 17, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

Don't try to convince me what a great day it is for baseball now that the New York Yankees have tried to buy another World Series championship by acquiring Alex Rodriguez, perhaps the best all-around player in the game today.

Don't try to convince me how happy I should be that Rodriguez, who only signed a $252-million deal to play for Texas for 10 years, finally has a chance to play on a championship team.

Don't try to convince me that the Yankees really won't be spending that much more money than normal thanks to the $67 million the Rangers are contributing to help pay the remaining seven years of a deal that was absurd from day one.

No, this is just another way to convince me that not paying attention to major league baseball is the right thing to do.


Why? Because it's just not that much fun to watch some teams spend millions of dollars to fill needs while other teams struggle to find enough money to field a competitive team.

The Yankees are going to have a payroll of about $190 million. So much for the so-called luxury tax that would penalize teams for spending above a certain amount by making them pay for overspending.

Commissioner Bud Selig said Monday that he was "very concerned" about the large amount of cash involved in the transaction. Right! There was no way he was not going to approve having a marquee player like Rodriguez come to New York where he will have even more market appeal.

The Yankees needed Rodriguez, who waived his no-trade clause, for two reasons. First, they were scrambling for a third baseman after Aaron Boone injured his knee in an off-season basketball game. Never mind that Rodriguez has always been a shortstop. He'll shift to third base because the Yankees have superstar Derek Jeter already playing shortstop.

Second, the Yankees wanted to embarrass the Boston Red Sox, their American League East rivals. Boston had failed to complete a deal for Rodriguez. The Yankees got him by giving up second baseman Alfonso Soriano, an all-star player that the Yankees were worried about because of his World Series failures last year, and a player to be named later. Even better, the Yankees persuaded Texas to throw in $67 million to help pay the salary of a player who will now be playing in New York, not Texas.

What is sad is that the deal still makes financial sense for Texas because it does dump $112 million more due Rodriguez. After all, the Rangers finished last with A-Rod three straight years. How much worse can they be without him?

Trade shows how out of whack baseball is

Still, the trade shows just how out of whack baseball is. The Rangers will spend more not to have Rodriguez on their team than Cincinnati will in total payroll during the 2004 season.

Granted, the Yankees have no reason to develop their own talent. They have such a lucrative TV contract for their games that they have far more money to spend than most teams. If they need a player, they go get one.

Not only have they added Rodriguez, but they also brought in outfielders Gary Sheffield and Kenny Lofton along with pitchers Kevin Brown and Javier Vazquez. And they made add more talent before the season opens if owner George Steinbrenner thinks he needs even though the Yankees already have 17 former all-star players on their spring training roster.

What the Yankees want, they just go get with no concern about what it costs.

Maybe that's why it's only fair that Rodriguez have bonus clauses in his contract that reward him for reaching certain feats. After all, how would you like having to get by on $179 million for the next seven years without a cash incentive for making the all-star team or winning a Gold Glove? Seems like Rodriguez should have to at least reach that status to earn $179 million. Then again, what do I know, because the Yankees are even going to give him a hotel suite on road trips rather than make him rough it in a regular room or pay for his own suite.

It's all about the money and nothing else. That's why there's no convincing me this deal is anything but more proof about what is wrong with baseball.

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