Have the Red Sox been planning for the offseason addition of Alex Rodriguez from as far back as February of this year?
Back on Feb. 9, Red Sox owner John Henry purchased 50 percent of NASCAR’s Roush Racing, a $60 million business venture designed to increase revenue streams in the team’s ongoing quest to compete with the Yankees.
This type of outside-the-box thinking – it’s the first major partnership between two professional sports organizations – is not new for Henry and Co., who’ve already taxed Fenway Park to the gills with yearly expansion and recently expanded into the Pacific Rim with the acquisition of two Japanese imports.
How much new money will it bring? I don’t know. I did some searching on the subject and only found a little information in an article in the July 16 issue of ESPN The Magazine, which describes the partnership as “built on the vows of revenue streams and marketing gains.”
“Roush has made plenty of moves in the past we all thought were crazy,” Kyle Petty, driver-owner of Petty Enterprises told Ryan McGee of The Mag. “Well, now we’re all doing what he was smart enough to pioneer. I bet if the Red Sox end up with a lot more money than everyone else, all the ball clubs will start to show up at the race track.”
Another section in the story reads: “Accountants are figuring out how to divvy up the eventual profits between those shopping for left-side tires and those looking for lefthanded relievers.”
Hmmm…will there be enough to sign A-Rod when/if the mercurial slugger opts out of his deal in New York?
Perhaps. The consensus is that Rodriguez will command somewhere between $30-$40 million per season if he leaves the club. The Yankees have already said they won’t get into a bidding war if A-Rod opts out of the last years of his contract.
With Mike Lowell ($9 million) and Matt Clement ($9.5 million — remember him?) set to come off the books at the end of the season and the Sox still unsure of what to do with Curt Schilling ($13 million), there could be $18.5 to 31.5 million in cash to toss around.
But with the Sox always seemingly focused on not letting the payroll get too out of control (despite this past offseason’s signings) plus the sensible choice for Schilling and the Sox to come to terms, it would seem the Sox would not be acting business conscience in wildly pursuing Rodriguez.
That’s where the deal with Roush Racing comes in. The deal was struck at the beginning of the season for each organization, which may or may not affect when the Sox begin to see a return on their investment.
The thought here is that the Sox attempt to sign A-Rod, take the short-term financial hit and bank on an influx of cash from their NASCAR investment in a year or two to get them out of the red – all the while taking advantage of competitive team that for the next few years will feature a nice balance of veteran and young talent.
The window for that balance in sports is short. You can only have veterans in their prime and productive kids making short money simultaneously for so long. Henry, Larry Lucchino and Theo Epstein know this. Seth Moonkin’s “Feeding the Monster” revealed such when in it Epstein made clear the Sox would take a step back in 2006, only to retool in 2007 and beyond with a mix of cheap homegrown talent and top-tier free agents.
And remember, A-Rod wanted to come here at the end of the 2003 season. He even agreed to a substantial paycut to do so, only to have the MLB Player’s Union squash the deal because, Heaven forbid, a player make less money.
Of course back then Rodriquez was coming here to play short, with Nomar Garciaparra going to the White Sox, Manny Ramirez shipping out to Texas and Magglio Ordonez replacing Manny. (By the way, I know we won it all in 2004 and Mags and A-Rod weren’t this productive before, but giving each player’s productivity this season, imagine the lineup today had that deal gone through? Oh, and Ortiz would be hitting in between them. Gulp.)
Now, the simple choice would be for the Sox to not resign Lowell and have A-Rod take over at third. Easy. But with Lowell’s resurgence as a premier run producer and his desire to stay in Boston as long as he gets more than a one-year deal, the Sox could potentially pencil in A-Rod at shortstop and trade Julio Lugo for 25 cents on the dollar like they did with Edgar Renteria.
That all depends, of course, on Henry’s accountants’ revenue projections (and trust me, I’m sure he’s done that).
That all makes for an interesting scenario. A-Rod may want to leave New York because of fan and media criticism and a money-grubbing agent. The Sox may have a hole at third or short. A-Rod wanted to come here before.
There’s just one more question: Do the Sox want A-Rod? This New York Daily News article may have the answer.
“One baseball source told the Daily News that Red Sox team president Larry Lucchino has wanted Rodriguez in a Boston uniform ever since the original deal collapsed, even after he was traded to the team’s hated rival. ‘Lucchino has never stopped wanting him,’ the source said.”
Things just got a lot more interesting.