Alex Rodriguez, Mariners Contentious Negotiations Were Worth It

On Sunday morning the New York Yankees and Alex Rodriguez had a press conference to announce the Rodriguez will be playing his final game on Friday, August 12th. He’ll remain on with the Yankees organization as an adviser through the end of his contract.

His career has run the gambit of great moments on the field, historical trades that were not consummated, trades that were completed, and multiple free agent contracts that were staggering in their dollar values.

As the baseball world focuses on the last few days of A-Rod’s career let’s take a look back at how it all started. Back when Rodriguez was tearing the cover off the ball for the Miami Westminster Christian High School where he hit .419 spanning over 100 games.

Alex Rodiguez was selected as the overall first pick in the 1993 draft by the Seattle Mariners but the sentiment to select him was not universally held by the Mariner’s front office, and the decision came down to the wire.

Rodriguez was not the desired choice of Mariners General Manager Woody Woodward. He preferred right-handed pitcher Darren Dreifort out of Witchita State. It was Mariner’s scouting director Roger Jongeward who was trying hard to persuade Woodward to select Rodriguez.

Jayson Stark, then of the Philadelphia Inquirer explained that Woodward wanted a college player who would get to the big leagues faster but, Dreifort’s $1.8MM price tag, the highest ever for a baseball draft pick – and his reported behind-the-scenes involvement with Scott Boras, the toughest agent in the business, might be enough to change Woodward’s mind.

According to Stark, the negotiations with Dreifort were on-going the day before the draft, and it was expected that he would be the number one pick.

The Mariners, either because they were unable to get a contract worked out ahead of the draft of because scouting director Jongeward’s recommendation carried more weight, selected Rodriguez and Dreifort went second to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The draft was held on June 3, 1993, and Rodriguez and the Mariners had until August 31st of that year to work out a deal.

A-Rod had the leverage of a full time scholarship to the University of Miami. He also had a shrewd “adviser” in his corner in super-agent Scott Boras. According to A-Rod both Boras and his mother wanted him to go to college, and he was very close to attending classes.

With Boras, who was not allowed to be officially named as an agent or Rodriguez would lose his college eligibility, involved in the process it was not a surprise that the negotiations went down to the wire. Rodriguez and the Mariners finally agreed to a deal on August 31st.

In many ways, the negotiations between the Mariners and Rodriguez’s camp followed the same script that would be present through much of the polarizing stars career. Fernando Arguelles, the scout who signed him, may have summed it up perfectly when he said, “I was 29 when this began, now I feel 50.”

The negotiations went back and forth beginning with Rodriguez asking for a record $2.5MM. It ended with Rodriguez signing a major league deal $1.269 million which included a guaranteed September callup in 1994.

Signing day was a tense day for the Mariners who had a press conference scheduled for 1 p.m. at the Grand Bay Hotel in Miami to announce the signing. The press was there, the Mariners brass including President Chuck Armstrong was there, the only person of note not in attendance was A-Rod.

Finally, at 2:30, an hour and a half after the scheduled start of the conference, Rodriguez along with his mom, brother, and sister arrived. According to Ed Giuliotti of the Miami Sun Sentinel, Mariners officials felt that Rodriguez arrival was not a mix-up in communication but rather a final hidden punch.

In the end, the Mariners made the right decision in drafting Rodriguez and going through the gut-wrenching negotiations that are present anytime Scott Boras is involved.

With the Mariners, Rodriguez played in 790 games over seven seasons compiling a .309/.374/.561 mark with 189 homers and 133 stolen bases. He was a four-time all-star, a Silver Slugger, and was a runner-up for the AL MVP in 1996.