A-Rod to play final game Friday, will become Yankees advisor
Following the game, the Yankees will unconditionally release the 41-year-old from his player contract, and he'll join the team's front office as a special advisor and instructor.
Rodriguez is owed $27-million in 2017, the final year of his 10-year, $275-million deal he signed in the winter of 2007. He'll be paid that money in full by the Yankees, general manager Brian Cashman revealed at Sunday's press conference.
A report from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports suggested Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner informed Rodriguez he would be released. Rodriguez confirmed the owner "reached out to me and we had several conversations," though Cashman refused to characterize it as a "forced" retirement.
"I think I can (still) play baseball," Rodriguez said. "That wasn't in the cards. That was the Yankees' decision, and I'm at peace with it."
Rodriguez's legend began almost immediately when he was selected first overall by the Seattle Mariners in 1993. He's regarded as one of the best prospects ever, and was in the majors by 1994 as an 18-year-old, recording his first hit at Fenway Park that July.
His 1996 season still holds as one of the greatest by a 20-year-old ever, as well as the greatest for a shortstop. Rodriguez set a career high with 54 doubles, won his only batting title, and recorded just the 10th 30-homer, 50-double season ever. In 1998 he put together only the third 40-HR, 40-stolen base season in history and added 213 hits for good measure, but - like in 1996 - lost the MVP award to Juan Gonzalez. Rodriguez's name is still dotted throughout the Mariners' record books.
As a free agent after the 2000 season, Rodriguez stunned the baseball world by signing the then-richest deal in baseball history - 10 years, $252 million - with the Texas Rangers. Though he put up some of his greatest numbers in a Rangers uniform and won his first MVP award with the team, his years in Texas were tumultuous, finishing in last place each of his three years with the club. After nearly joining the Red Sox in the winter of 2003 - before the trade was squashed over money - the Yankees acquired Rodriguez in February 2004; he agreed to move to third base with Derek Jeter manning shortstop in the Bronx.
While much of his Yankees tenure has been marred by controversies and playoff failures, Rodriguez's career in pinstripes will go down as one of the better ones in history. He won a pair of MVP awards and helped the team win their 27th World Series championship in 2009, while leaving his mark across the team's storied record books. He also recorded his 3,000th hit and 500th and 600th home runs in a Yankees jersey, among several other career milestones he reached in the second half of his career.
Rodriguez was implicated in a performance-enhancing drug scandal during the latter stages of his career. He admitted to using steroids during his years in Texas but denied reports of involvement with the growing Biogenesis scandal during the 2013 season. Rodriguez appealed a 211-game suspension levied by Major League Baseball in 2013; it was later reduced to 162 games, costing him the 2014 season.
Following a bounce-back campaign as the Yankees DH in 2015, Rodriguez regressed this season, hitting .204/.252/.356 with nine home runs. He was eventually relegated to bench duty by the Yankees, who desire to give at-bats to their younger players, a move that paved the way for Sunday's announcement.
Assuming his statistics to date hold, A-Rod will finish his career with 696 career home runs - the fourth-highest total in history - as well as 3,114 hits, 2,084 RBIs, 329 stolen bases, 5,811 total bases, and a slash line of .295/.380/.550. He ranks among the top 10 players all-time in several statistical categories.
If he doesn't play again, Rodriguez would make his first appearance on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot in 2022.