Yankees set to part ways with A-Rod

Yankees set to part ways with A-Rod

NEW YORK -- The Yankees wanted to offer Alex Rodriguez a contract extension that could have kept the likely AL MVP in New York. They never got that chance, so instead, the club appears ready to part ways with the slugging infielder.

Through his agent, Scott Boras, Rodriguez sent word to the Yankees on Sunday that he plans to opt out of the final three years of his contract, effectively making him a free agent and available to speak with all 30 clubs.

In a statement released on Monday, general manager Brian Cashman implied that Rodriguez's four-year Yankees career is complete, referring to Rodriguez's time in New York in the past tense.

"We expressed our interest in keeping him in pinstripes, and requested the opportunity to convey those feelings to him directly with the Steinbrenner family in an open, face-to-face dialogue," Cashman said.

"Alex was a key part of our success over the last four seasons, and I appreciate having the opportunity to work with him."

For months, the Yankees have steadfastly insisted that they would not pursue Rodriguez if he opts out, a stance they appear prepared to back up. The looming opt-out has been a major topic of conversation since before Spring Training, and Rodriguez did little to quell speculation by leading the Major Leagues in home runs (54), RBIs (156) and runs scored (143) over a memorable campaign.

"I received a message from Scott Boras last night informing me that Alex Rodriguez formally opted out of the final three seasons of his contract," Cashman said. "We always understood that it was his contractual right to do so."

The decision, revealed by Boras during Game 4 of the World Series between the Red Sox and the Rockies, means that Rodriguez will surrender the remaining $81 million on his contract with the Yankees. As a free agent, Rodriguez may be able to secure an even larger deal, but it won't come from the Yankees.

"We really wanted to meet with him," senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner told the Associated Press, speaking outside Legends Field in Tampa, Fla. "We wanted him to stay a Yankee. We wanted to let him know how much we wanted him.

"The bottom line is ... do we really want anybody that really doesn't want to be a Yankee? How the heck can you do that? Compare him with [Derek] Jeter. Jeter, since he was a little kid, all he ever wanted to do was play shortstop for the Yankees. That's what we want."

Rodriguez actually had until 10 days after the World Series to trigger the opt-out, which was incorporated into a record-setting 10-year, $252 million contract signed with the Texas Rangers before the 2001 season.

According to reports, Boras said that Rodriguez did not feel he would be able to reach a decision on whether to opt out by that time, due to the unsettled nature of the Yankees' offseason.

Manager Joe Torre walked away after a 12-year run at the helm, and though the team appears ready to name Joe Girardi as his successor, the Yankees have made little to no headway with potential free agents such has Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Bobby Abreu.

The biggest winners in Rodriguez's decision are actually the Rangers, who are now off the hook for a subsidy of $21.3 million they would have had to pay the Yankees over the final three years of the landmark deal -- tweaks made to the contract that facilitated a February 2004 trade from Texas to New York for Alfonso Soriano.

The 32-year-old Rodriguez figured to receive a lucrative windfall no matter what he did this winter. Rodriguez established new career highs in runs and RBIs while hitting .314 in 2007, helping dig the Yankees out from a 21-29 start and secure the American League Wild Card.

If Rodriguez's time in New York is over, it will be remembered as much for its tumultuous events as for his on-field successes. Though Rodriguez will likely be awarded his third AL MVP -- and second as a Yankee -- next month, many will point to the fact that the Yankees were unable to reach the World Series in the four seasons Rodriguez played in New York.

Rodriguez went just 1-for-14 in the 2006 AL Division Series against the Detroit Tigers, famously dropped to eighth in the batting order by Torre in the fourth and deciding game, and did not collect an RBI in the 2007 ALDS until his second-to-last at-bat, when he hit a solo home run off the Cleveland Indians' Rafael Perez to draw New York within three runs.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox -- a team that originally courted Rodriguez from Texas before the Yankees swooped in and pulled off a deal thought to be impossible -- have won the Fall Classic twice since 2004, ending a World Series championship drought that stretched back to 1918.

"I wish Alex, Cynthia and their growing family the best of luck in the future," Cashman said. "I only wish we could have raised a championship trophy together during his time here, which was the ultimate goal we all shared."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.