The end of an era for the New York Yankees – scratch that, Major League Baseball – will come to an end on Friday, Aug. 12. Just days after Mark Teixeira’s somber press conference, Alex Rodriguez announced to the baseball world on Sunday morning that the book on his career will close on Friday.
.@AROD will play his final Major League game this Friday. He will become an advisor & instructor with the #Yankees. pic.twitter.com/cTlVLcLTt8
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) August 7, 2016
New York Yankees to Release Alex Rodriguez
“This is a tough day. I love this game and I love this team. And today I’m saying goodbye to both. This is also a proud day. I was 18 when I broke into the big leagues. I never thought I could play for 22 years,” Rodriguez said in the press conference.
Essentially a retirement, the 41-year-old will be unconditionally released by the club following the conclusion of Friday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Rodriguez believes he can still help the Yankees on the field, but has come to terms that the front office doesn’t see it that way.
“The answer is sure, of course, I think I can play baseball,” Rodriguez said in the press conference. “You always think you have one more hit and can help the team win one more game, for sure. That wasn’t in the cards. That was the Yankees’ decision and I’m at peace with it.”
After coming off the 162-game suspension and having a magical 2015 season, the luster seems to have faded and Rodriguez looks every bit of 41 years old right now. In 62 games in 2016, he’s hitting .204/.252/.356. Add the fact that he isn’t really a viable option in the field and the Yankees are actually in somewhat of a youth movement, this ultimately is a move that had to happen sooner or later from the club’s perspective.
Rodriguez will remain with the organization in an advisory role, at least through the duration of his contract.
“After spending several days discussing this plan with Alex, I am pleased that he will remain a part of our organization moving forward and transition into a role in which I know he can flourish,” Hal Steinbrenner, Yankees managing general partner, said in a statement. “We have an exciting group of talented young players at every level of our system. Our job as an organization is to utilize every resource possible to allow them to reach their potential, and I expect Alex to directly contribute to their growth and success.”
The No.1 overall pick in the 1993 MLB Draft has accomplished just about everything a position player can in the game of baseball: Three MVP Awards, two Gold Gloves, over 3,000 hits, nearly 700 homers and a World Series ring with the most storied baseball franchise in history. He’s in the exclusive 40-40 Club (40 homers and 40 steals in a single season), played in the Midsummer Classic 14 times and brought home 10 Silver Slugger Awards. That said, it would be a disservice to A-Rod to simply define his career by numbers alone.
He will always be most remembered for signing two contracts over $200 million (Rangers, 2003; Yankees 2008). In the mid-2000’s that seemed ludicrous, even for a player of his caliber. The truth is that he was Mike Trout before Mike Trout. On Aug. 7, 2016, paying Trout $252 million doesn’t seem farfetched at all. He was often grouped in with Derek Jeter and Nomar Garciaparra as the best shortstops in the game, but he was really more suited to be grouped with the likes of Barry Bonds and Albert Pujols.
The unfortunate part is that the praise of his countless accomplishments will always bear a familiar stain. His career, like many others of the era, will always be tarnished with the cardinal sin of performance enhancing drug use. Admitting to using PEDs in 2009 and the ugly back-and-forth with Major League Baseball in 2014 will make the Cooperstown seem much farther from The Bronx than 188 miles.