Reports: A-Rod considering retirement after 2017

Reports: A-Rod considering retirement after 2017

VIERA, Fla. -- The end of a baseball era may soon be approaching. Alex Rodriguez indicated to ESPN that he will retire following the end of his contract after the 2017 season, though later he told the New York Daily News and the New York Post that he has not set his retirement plans in stone.

"I'm thinking in terms of my contract, which ends in 2017. After that, we'll see what happens," Rodriguez wrote in a text message to the Daily News and the Post. "I've got two years and more than 300 games to play."

Earlier Wednesday, Rodriguez told ESPN: "It is time for me to go home and be Dad."

Rodriguez, who turns 41 in July, will enter the 2016 season with 687 home runs, which places him fourth in the all-time record book behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714). So perhaps if he is nearing the all-time home run record in two years, he could consider to continue his career.

Rodriguez is coming off a successful comeback season in 2015, when he hit 33 home runs with an .842 OPS after a year-long suspension for violations of MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

The report about a possible retirement for Rodriguez was met with little surprise to Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner, who has been teammates with Rodriguez since 2008, or Yankees manager Joe Girardi, especially considering Rodriguez is currently the fifth-oldest player in baseball. By the time his contract expires in 2017, he will be 42 years old.

"I don't think it should be too big of a surprise, he's almost 50 years old right?" Gardner said with a laugh. "He's been a lot of fun to be around the last year, year and a half since he came back. He's a big part of our team, and hopefully we can send him off on the right note.

"I've always enjoyed being around him and getting to witness firsthand not just how good of a player he is, but how hard of a worker he is, and the amount of preparation he puts in every single day."

Rodriguez, a 14-time All-Star and three-time American League Most Valuable Player Award winner, is eighth in runs scored (2,002), sixth in extra-base hits (1,259), eighth in total bases (5,734) and 22nd in slugging percentage (.554). He has also won two Gold Glove Awards, and he helped the Yankees to the 2009 World Series title with some timely hitting down the stretch.

Earlier in Spring Training, after being informed that teammate Mark Teixeira would like to play five more seasons, Rodriguez provided a telling response.

"I do love the game," Rodriguez said then. "I'm madly in love with the game of baseball, but I won't be playing five more years."

Rodriguez was asked early in Spring Training whether this might be his last contract.

"Coming into last year, I just really thought about one day at a time," he said. "There was a lot of chatter about if I would make the team or not; I know we were talking about that last year at this time. At age 40 with two hip surgeries, I'm day to day. I plan to prepare hard and play as long as my body lets me."

What Rodriguez's legacy will be after his retirement is complicated because of his suspension. Rodriguez's teammates, however, have always spoken highly of playing with him and his ability to give young players tips on hitting. Because of that, Girardi believes Rodriguez will be able to find a job in baseball if he wants.

"I think he'll stay in the game to some extent," Girardi said. "What that extent is, whether it's through broadcasting or maybe trying to be a part of an ownership group, maybe even being a coach or manager, I think he'll try to stay in the game because of his passion for it."

Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.