A-Rod confirms interest in Yankees

A-Rod confirms interest in Yankees

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez confirmed his initiation of direct contact with the Yankees on Wednesday afternoon, with the motive of keeping alive the possibility of his future in New York.

In a statement posted on AROD.com, Rodriguez's official Web site, the All-Star third baseman said that he has spoken directly with the Steinbrenner family and is taking part in continuing dialogue with the club.

"After spending time with Cynthia and my family over these last few weeks, it became clear to me that I needed to make an attempt to engage the Yankees regarding my future with the organization," Rodriguez said.

"Prior to entering into serious negotiations with other clubs, I wanted the opportunity to share my thoughts directly with Yankees' ownership. We know there are other opportunities for us, but Cynthia and I have a foundation with the club that has brought us comfort, stability and happiness."

A baseball source at the Owners Meetings in Naples, Fla., with knowledge of the negotiations told MLB.com that the Yankees are proceeding to open a dialogue with Rodriguez.

The Yankees publicly backed away from Rodriguez after Game 4 of the World Series, when Rodriguez's agent, Scott Boras, delivered word that Rodriguez had opted out of his contract and forfeited the remaining three years and $81 million on his deal.

At the time, Yankees senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner dismissed talk of pursuing A-Rod, saying, "It's good-bye." Yankees general manager Brian Cashman reiterated numerous times that the Yankees could not fiscally pursue Rodriguez if he opted out, citing the loss of a $21.3 million subsidy obtained when Rodriguez was acquired from the Texas Rangers.

So it was surprising when, citing a source with knowledge of the situation, the New York Daily News first reported on Wednesday that Rodriguez and the Yankees have opened a scenario that would keep the likely 2007 American League Most Valuable Player in pinstripes after all.

But the Yankees, who were rebuffed when they asked repeatedly to meet with Rodriguez after the season, have one request of their own. According to the report originally published on the newspaper's Web site, the Yankees have no plans to negotiate with Boras.

"We will not negotiate with Scott Boras," a club source told the Daily News. "He cannot be in the room."

Yet that insistence may place the Yankees in violation of baseball's Collective Bargaining Agreement, according to Michael Weiner, the general counsel of the Major League Baseball Players Association.

"That clearly is a violation of the Basic Agreement," Weiner told FOXSports.com on Wednesday. "Once a player designates an agent, a club cannot refuse to meet with that agent."

Hot Stove

According to that Web site's report, the Yankees would be able to avoid Boras only if Rodriguez fires the agent and chooses either to represent himself or pick another representative. Rodriguez has made no such overtures toward Boras, who has represented the 11-time All-Star since he was 16.

Steinbrenner, Cashman and Boras did not immediately return telephone messages left by MLB.com.

Rodriguez, 32, is the clear-cut favorite to be named as the AL MVP when the award is announced on Monday. It would be Rodriguez's third time bringing home the honors in his career and the second in four seasons as a member of the Yankees.

Rodriguez led the Major Leagues in home runs (54), RBIs (156) and runs scored (143) in 2007, batting .314 with 24 stolen bases while helping the Yankees dig out of an early hole and attain the AL Wild Card before falling to the Cleveland Indians in the AL Division Series. He also clubbed his 500th home run on Aug. 4 against the Kansas City Royals, becoming the youngest player in history to reach that mark.

Citing his comfort in New York, Rodriguez confirmed that he approached the Yankees through a third-party intermediary.

"I reached out to the Yankees through mutual friends and conveyed that message," Rodriguez said. "I also understand that I had to respond to certain Yankees concerns, and I was receptive and understanding of that situation.

"Cynthia and I have since spoken directly with the Steinbrenner family. During these healthy discussions, both sides were able to share honest feelings and hopes with one another, and we expect to continue this dialogue with the Yankees over the next few days."

The Yankees, who had no official comment on the Rodriguez proceedings, are apparently unconcerned that Rodriguez's overture could be a ploy to generate interest in the All-Star. While most clubs would love to add a player of Rodriguez's magnitude, teams with the financial wherewithal to realistically do it this offseason could be scarce.

"We realize it could be a trap to get us back in the negotiations," one Yankees official told the Daily News, "but we don't think that's the case."

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