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Will A-Rod leave the Yankees after 2007?

Why Me?

Very interesting stuff from Buster Olney's blog this morning.  Unfortunately, I can't just link the article because you need a subscription for ESPN Insider.

Will A-Rod opt out after '07?

Baseball's new financial world order is taking shape, and in this universe Aramis Ramirez is a $15 million-a-year player, opening negotiations with a pitcher costs $51.1 million and middle reliever Justin Speier might cost $12 million to $15 million.

So how would Alex Rodriguez, the player who set the money bar higher than anybody in baseball history, fit into this new universe?

We might find out next winter. Rodriguez has an option in his contract that would allow him to void the last three years of his deal, just as fellow Scott Boras client J.D. Drew has done. And officials and agents said Tuesday that A-Rod and the Boras Corp. face an interesting decision, much more difficult than Drew's decision.

According to the terms of the 10-year, $252 million deal A-Rod signed after the 2000 season, he is scheduled to make $81 million in the last three years of his deal, at a whopping $27 million per year. It's unlikely he would top that annual salary if he were to hit the market again next winter.

However, A-Rod might be in a better position to make more money over the long haul if he becomes a free agent again next fall, at the age of 32. He'll probably have just surpassed 500 career homers, and interested teams would know this: For the next five or six years, A-Rod would probably be good for 40 homers, 110 RBI and a ticket-selling run at baseball's all-time home run record.

Apparently, Ramirez -- a player with only a fragment of A-Rod's résumé -- might've gotten something in the range of six years and $90 million if he had decided to sign with a team other than the Cubs. Alfonso Soriano turns 31 this offseason and he may well get a $120 million deal.

So let's just say, for argument's sake, that A-Rod opted out of his contract after the 2007 season. He might get a seven-year, $20 million-per-year contract -- a package of $140 million, or an extra $60 million above and beyond what he is guaranteed now. Maybe he would get a little more; I have no doubt that Boras would argue that he could get more than that.

Now, if he were to keep to the terms of his current deal, A-Rod would make his $81 million from 2008 to 2010 and then become a free agent -- but at age 35. It's possible that he would still be a very productive and marketable player in the fall of 2010 and might be in position to get a pricey three- or four-year deal.

But it's also possible that he might regress and not be in a position to command a deal as lucrative as one he would get next fall.

"It's a tough call," a veteran agent said yesterday. "You really could make the case either way. You guarantee yourself big money if you take him out on the market next fall, but hey, he's already got lots of money in the bank and might want to gamble that he's still a great player [in 2010].

"If he were my client, I'd take him out there again next fall, to get the guaranteed dollars. What it might really come down to is how happy he is with the Yankees: He could use the opt-out option to get out of town, if he's still getting booed."

A high-ranking baseball official said: "There's no way he's walking away from the last three years of that deal, because what Scott really focuses on is getting the highest possible salary, from year to year, and nobody will offer him anything close to $27 million per year [for 2008-10]."

It's a situation that will be monitored closely over the next calendar year as A-Rod tries again to prove himself to Yankees fans already restless with his performance in big spots.

Nothing on this site or in Yankeeland provokes commentary or energetic and passionate debate quite like an A-Rod post.

Your thoughts?