On the last "Sunday Night Baseball" broadcast, which featured the New York Mets and the Washington Nationals, Alex Rodriguez explained how he would've approached his first foray into free agency differently if he knew then what he knew now -- all under the guise of offering advice to impending free agent Bryce Harper.
As a reminder: Rodriguez signed a 10-year deal worth $252 million with the Texas Rangers after the 2000 season. He, as the teens used to say, got paid. Yet Rodriguez claims that he would've taken less money to sign with the Mets if he had a chance at do-over -- all because he grew up a fan of the team and of Keith Hernandez.
Predictably, Mets executives from the era, like general manager Steve Phillips and assistant general manager Dan Duquette, aren't buying any of what Rodriguez was selling. Here are some notable quotables from Mike Puma of the New York Post:
"[Rodriguez] indicated he was going to accept somewhere over $100 million less to play for the Mets," Duquette told The Post. "No chance. I don't believe that for one second."
"There was slim and no chance we were going to go anywhere near what he signed for," Duquette said. "Boras signed an unbelievable deal for him. He was going to sign for $130 million less to play for the team that was his childhood dream because he loved Keith Hernandez? Listen, we all love Keith Hernandez, but you are going to give up $130 million? Come on."
It's worth noting that Rodriguez is speaking with the benefit of hindsight -- or without the emotional burden of facing an uncertain future. It's easier to say "I should have signed with the Mets" when there's nothing riding on it but a television segment; it's harder when it means leaving $130 million on the table as a 25-year-old.
Performance-wise, the Mets (and every other team) surely could have used him. While Rodriguez batted .318/.399/.622 (160 OPS+) with 52 home runs as a member of the 2001 Rangers, the Mets saw shortstop Rey Ordonez finish with an OPS+ below 70. Had Rodriguez joined the Mets and performed similarly, he would've helped close the six-game gap between New York and the Atlanta Braves, who won the National League East. To wit: Rodriguez tallied more than eight additional Wins Above Replacement, per Baseball Reference. Take that for what it's worth -- and keep in mind that Rodriguez's impact would've been amplified over the remainder of the contract.
Though Rodriguez's what-if makes for an interesting thought experiment, that's all it is, really. Unless Rodriguez has in his possession a time machine, there's no way we'll ever know for certain what could have been.