Yankees announce Alex Rodriguez will play his final game on Friday
After Friday's game, he'll become a special adviser for the Yankees
Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez will play in his final game this coming Friday, the team announced on Sunday. After that game, he will assume a position of special adviser and instructor with the team.
After playing in Friday's game in Yankee Stadium vs. the Rays, A-Rod will be unconditionally released from his playing contract and then sign a deal as a front office member.
Brian Cashman revealed in the press conference that Rodriguez's salary will be paid in full force. He's due the remainder of his $21 million this season and $21 million next season.
"I never thought I could play for 22 years," a tearful A-Rod said as he opened his press conference. "At 18, I just wanted to make the team."
He did. The No. 1 overall pick in the 1993 draft out of Westminster Christian in Miami debuted in 1994 at age 18. He's now logged time in parts of 22 seasons, racking up some of the best stat-lines in major-league history.
A-Rod ranks fourth in MLB history with 696 home runs. He's one of three players -- along with Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth -- to rack up over 2,000 runs and 2,000 RBI. He ranks 20th in career hits with 3,114. He's 30th in doubles with 547. He's even stolen 329 bases.
A 14-time All-Star, Rodriguez is a three-time MVP and won the 2009 World Series with New York.
Of course, there's also the dark side here, which is the PED side. Rodriguez was one of the failed drug tests in 2003. A report leaked what were supposed to be the anonymous results and A-Rod admitted as much. He later was suspended for all of the 2014 season thanks to his ties to the Biogenesis scandal.
As for why things ended now, the press conference painted a picture that this was triggered by the front office. Rodriguez noted that the conversation was started by Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner. When asked if he was given some sort of ultimatum by the Yankees ("retire or else"), here was his reply:
"I don't think the conversation got that strong or aggressive. It didn't need to. I have an enormous amount of respect for Hal Steinbrenner and I really focused on the positive part of the conversation -- the opportunity to have some longevity with the franchise. And that was it."
So, yes, it was Steinbrenner's idea to retain Rodriguez as an adviser and to work with minor-leaguers. This really makes it seem like the Yankees found a way to get Rodriguez to stop playing without having to cut him.
An interesting twist here is that Rodriguez was asked about possibly playing for another team later, and he didn't say no. So maybe he's not officially retired so much as done playing for the Yankees.
If he is done, we're about to witness the final week in one of the most polarizing careers in MLB history.
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