As baseball deals with the suspension handed to Alex Rodriguez on Monday, it’s worth looking back on what happened in 2003 when the Red Sox unsuccessfully tried to trade for him.
At the time, the Red Sox were prepared to trade Manny Ramirez to Texas for Rodriguez. They were then set to ship Nomar Garciaparra to the White Sox in what would be a historic remaking of their roster.
Rodriguez agreed to restructure his contract — losing $28 million in the process — to make the deal possible in return for increased marketing rights. But the MLB Players Association refused to approve the trade based on the contract losing value.
“The Players Association’s intransigence and the arbitrary nature of its action are responsible for the deal’s demise,” Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said at the time.
A few months later, Rodriguez was traded to the Yankees. It seemed like a disaster for the Sox.
But Rodriguez has been an embarrassment for the Yankees, despite 10 years of often strong on-field performance. While Rodriguez has hit 302 home runs and drove in 960 runs in pinstripes, the Yankees have just one championship since the trade with Texas.
Rodriguez admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs in 2009 and on Monday was suspended for 211 games for the same offense. He has shamed the franchise with misdeeds on and off the field, alienated teammates and drawn the wrath of fans.
After he opted out of his contract in 2007 — during a World Series game — the Yankees signed Rodriguez to a 10-year, $275 million deal that is sure to go down as one of the worst in baseball history.
Instead of being remembered as one of the greatest players in history, Rodriguez’s legacy will likely lead with his antics.
On Monday, Rodriguez portrayed himself as a victim while refusing to answer questions about whether he again used PEDs.
Even if he is suspended for all of 2014, the Yankees will still owe Rodriguez $61 million over three years. His contract will hamper the organization for years to come.
Had the MLBPA allowed the trade 10 years ago, all this drama might have played out at Fenway Park. It very easily could have been the Red Sox dealing with all of Rodriguez’s foibles while MLB investigators snooped around Fenway. John Henry could be the one on the hook for all that wasted money.
Lucchino called it intransigence. A decade later, count it as a stroke of luck.