Alex Rodriguez Announced That He’s Retiring As A Baseball Player. He Could Have Been Fair And Ethical About It. Nah!


New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez, a three time MVP, 14-time All-Star and one of the most talented and controversial players in baseball history—and the epic Ethics Corrupter  who has been criticized on Ethics Alarms more than any other sports figure!—  announced that he will play his final major league game next Friday. For his 20 million dollar  salary this year, “A-Rod” is hitting only .204 with nine home runs and 29 RBIs in 216 at-bats. He can’t play in the field anymore, and any normal player of his age (41) and diminished skills would have been released long ago. (Indeed, any normal player of  his age and diminished skills would have quit.) The team, however, is obligated to pay Rodriguez’s 20 million annual salary not only this year, but also the next. This makes him untradeable as well as too expensive to release.

Of course, if a player voluntarily ends his relationship with a team by retiring, he waives the rest of his contract. Many players have done that when they reached the point in their careers where they were no longer helping the team, taking the place of a better young player on the roster, and embarrassing themselves. None of those players, however, would be forfeiting 27 million dollars, the current tab the Yankees are contractually obligated to pay A-Rod as the final lap of a $275 million, 10-year contract that was baseball’s largest in 2007.

Nevertheless, forfeiting the money is what an ethical player should do. He’s not earning it. Rodriquez has made more than a half-billion dollars in his career, not counting various endorsement fees and bonuses. His two children are guaranteed to be tycoons many times over. He has lots of money, but very little accumulated good will or respect, as a confessed steroid cheat (he was suspended for the entire 2014 season for PED use and a cover-up) and is one of the most disliked players in any sport. Retiring as a straightforward admission that he is no longer able to play and has been hurting his team and team mates would have been the ethical course—a sacrifice, but not much of one.


This was obviously a negotiated exit, proposed by the Yankees.  When the fourth-place team with scant play-off hopes traded four established veterans last month, it was clear that A-Rod was on the block, despite needing only four more home runs to join fellow PED-hound  Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) as the only baseball sluggers to reach 700 dingers. He wasn’t going to get the at-bats to do it, though, so the team offered him a dignified exit. He could “retire,” but would really be handed an unconditional release.  After Rodriguez’s last game, he will be dropped off the roster by the club and collect his huge pay  checks by staying at home to Florida. Starting next season, he will become the highest paid “special adviser and instructor” who ever lived, as the Yankees try to get something for their 20 million.

“After spending several days discussing this plan with Alex, I am pleased that he will remain a part of our organization moving forward and transition into a role in which I know he can flourish,” Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement.

Right. Translation: “We are thrilled that we will finally get this albatross off our necks. It’s 27 million down the drain that we could be using to improve the team, but at least Rodriguez won’t be wasting a roster spot.”

It didn’t have to be that way, but given what we have learned about Alex Rodriguez over the years, I guess it did.

It’s funny: I distinctly remember the day, long ago, when I thought to myself, “Well, at least Alex Rodriguez will top Barry Bonds’ tainted career home run total, and we’ll have a clean, honest, honorable home run king again.”


32 thoughts on “Alex Rodriguez Announced That He’s Retiring As A Baseball Player. He Could Have Been Fair And Ethical About It. Nah!

  1. Red Sox ownership and fans should light a special candle of thanks for the players union, MLB itself, and just about anyone else who put the kibosh on “Slappy” becoming a member of the Boston Red Sox. This, folks is no Gil Meche.

    In 2002 I thought A-Rod was the second greatest player in the history of the game after Ruth and tended to ignore the reports of his petulant behaviors – stars are like that. Then came the truth about his excessive use of additives. Good riddance.

  2. When Larry Bird retired, if he had stayed on the Celtics for a few more days, his contract would’ve been automatically renewed for $4.5 million. When he met the team president to make his decision official, the president slyly told him to take a week to think about it and Bird said, ” I know what day it is and if I’m not going to play, I’m not going to take the money.”

    • I am awash in shame, as a Boston boy and admirer of Larry—I should have mentioned that perfect example of the Anti-A-Rod. Thank you.

      Larry is reputedly having financial problems today, ironically. Those who care about values other than money often have this problem. I’m not doing so hot myself…

  3. A friend of mine is a long-time Seattle sportscaster; one time over beers discussing players from all the sports he’s met in his career (hockey players are generally the nicest to work with, he says, while football players are generally the worst) he said the two individual extremes of people he’d covered had each played for Seattle’s Mariners baseball club. Dan’s favorite, both for his athletic skills and as an exemplary person, is new Hall-of-Famer Ken Griffey, Jr. The most “arrogant and selfish SOB” he’d ever met in 30+ years of sports journalism was A-Rod.

  4. A story I’ve heard that may or may not be apochryphal:

    Alex was a freshman at the high school in Miami I graduated from back before electricity. Alex wanted to start at shortstop on the varsity baseball team as a freshman (and doubtless should have skill-wise, I assume). But the baseball coach insisted the incumbent senior shortstop had earned his turn and Alex would have to wait. Alex promptly transferred to another school.

    He seems such a humorless soul, I wonder whether Alex’s main problem is not being the smartest pencil in the drawer. Doing the right thing requires some smarts.

    Also, I’ve read the benefits of steroids can last up to four years. The few good months he had after he returned from his suspension didn’t come as a shock. Any more than his recent total collapse. No one seems to want to talk about Tiger Woods’ marital problems and lack of major wins and their relation to the PGA Tour beginning PED testing. I think it’s fair to assume almost all of MLB was juiced.

  5. Arod is a jerk, but I have trouble getting upset about him not giving up his salary in the waning years of his contract, for a couple of reasons.

    Mainly, this is the way baseball has structured itself. Young players coming up are under total team control, and generally make near league minimum for the first few years of their careers, even if they’re one of the best players in the game. If very good, they’ll make a bigger buck during arbitration time and finally after 6 years or so they’ll be able to make large, long-term money as a free agent. There is no “pay-per-performance” status in baseball, to some degree. Yes, long-term players who have proven they’re good over 6 years will make money, but whether they shine or star once that contract is done, it doesn’t matter. Much like players in their first 3 years or so get paid below average contracts even if they’re the better players in the game.

    Once they get to that point, a number of players sign with a team specifically because they get a long term deal to finish their playing days. It’s basically expected they are being sigend for the front end of the contract, and won’t be worth the value in the end. It’s known ahead of time, particularly by the team signing.

    No one made the yankees sign that deal with Arod, there was no gun put to their head. Same with other aging veterans who get 6-8 year deals knowing they’ll only probably produce for the first 4-5 (if they don’t bomb out). Teams take that risk when they sign players, in this case it didn’t work out for the yankees. But why should they get a pass? Are they going to take that money and give their rookies who play well the money? No, they’re going to sign some new veteran or stick it in their pocket.

    • Check your comment against the Rationalization list, and tell me your score. I’m just estimating, but I think you nicked at least 7.

      I just responded to a similar comment on Facebook that was skeptical that I would leave money on the table. I HAVE done that, more than once, involving sums that were comparatively more significant to me than 27 million is to A-Rod.

      • To some extent. But you’re only facing this as a 1-way thing. If the Yankees sign an aging veteran to a low priced 2-year contract, and the guy has a spectacular year. Should the Yankees be forced to give the player a huge bonus. No, of course not, that’s not how contracts work.

        What you’re coming on is that a player is in an only-lose situation. They can only make their money, if they play at, or above, the value that’s supposed when they sign that contract. But we don’t actually know what that value was between the team and the player. You’re saying we shouldn’t assume that both don’t go in knowing that the final years of the contract , although in general that IS the assumption in baseball. Yes, a few, very rare, players perform well in their 40’s (and please leave Bonds out that), but it’s an unusual circumstance. In general, after 30 players decline, particularly into the upper 30s.

        If that’s the case, is it ethical for a team to sign a guaranteed contract with a player, where if they overperform they don’t have to pay extra, but if underperform (and badly) they don’t have to pay it? Why have guaranteed contracts then? You’re looking at it only from one side, which is unfair to the players who negotiated an collective bargaining agreement.

        The last part is, as a member of a union, it behooves him to NOT retire and give the money back. As it sets a precendense and lowers the value of contracts for union members

        • I sign contracts, based on my presumed services and value. If I decide to retire before the contract is over, then I don’t get paid. A contract for 5 years of committed service doesn’t guarantee results, when the amount being paid seems unjust due to changed circumstances, the good faith party seeks a re-adjustment of terms on the basis of equity. Contract law may say he doesn’t have to. Ethics isn’t law.

          Teams don’t HAVE to pay more when a player outplays his salary, but they very often do, you know. Teams can pay the major league minimum until a player is eligible for arbitration, but with outstanding players, the usually pay a fair salary, because it’s the right thing to do (and also builds good will.)

          Collecting 27 million for nothing is unethical. He has no obligation to be fair to the team, but it’s still the ethical thing to do. And heaven forbid that the Union has to deal with the rare precedent of a player being fair and not insisting on money that he hasn’t earned and can’t.

          • Teams very, very rarely pay much more to a player under contract, no matter if it’s one under team control due to service years or to a free agent contract. In fact I can’t recall a single team ever paying a free agent contracted player more money then their contract, even if they play well and above their “value” for the contract. It doesn’t happen. The only way it does is if they renegotiate the contract so the team can gain more years of control on it. There are no bonus’s in baseball, unless it’s ones written into the contract to begin with.

            As for younger players, teams sometimes will sign them a contract a bit more then their value, but nothing remotely near what their playing “value” is. While under team control initially, they have 1-year contracts. They may pay them a few hundred grand more then the minimum, but that’s chump change in baseball contracts. Otherwise, teams do not pay more. Does not happen. They wait until the contract runs out and then, if they’re good, sign them to a better contract. At best, they will sign them a long-term contract that covers their controlled years and their arbitration eligible years and maybe a free agent year or two. This is done by both parties, with the player getting long term salary and the team paying what it believes will be less then it would have to if the player continues into arbitration. In those cases you sometimes get the Evan Longoria situation, where he was a superstar ranked in the bottom of paid players, because he got salary stability and then played for years in a bargain basement contract.

            Find me a team that pays a “fair” contract to a player who outperforms their value by a large amount, when they’re not doing it to gain years of control at a cheaper rate then they would otherwise. It’s not out there. If a team pays a lot to a 1-4 year player, they fear they will pay more in arbitration (bump up the salary initially, and you pay even more later). It’s a very rare thing.

            The problem to me is, your argument is all 1-sided to team owners. A bad player gives up his money, a good player has to wait until the contract runs out to get more. That’s patently unfair to players, even huge jerks like A-rod.

            And a union shouldn’t be doing anything to help out a team, their job is to get the best contracts for their members. They have the same duty, to some extent, that lawyers do to defending a person, which you covered very well in another article. If they don’t defend their CBA, then why have one?

            • In 2015, John Lackey was contractually bound to pitch for the major league minimum. The Cardinals restructured his contract, rather than hold him to it.

              This is an “everybody does it” argument. If players want a huge amount to sign and play until they run out of gas, then don’t make it a salary. A-Rod got X amount to play as much as he could in a ten year period, stuctured however. Then he’s already earned all of it by agreeing to the deal. The suspension year doesn’t cost him anything, unless the Yankees sue to void the whole contract on bad faith grounds. But that’s not what they agreed. They agreed to pay A-Rod to play baseball 20,0000 per year.

              It’s unethical to accept payment when you can’t deliver the services you are being paid for. I don’t care how little or how much that may be: it doesn’t matter.

              Yes, I know about unions, who don’t care about right and wrong, just furthering the interests of their clients. They are crucial when a workforce is being abused and exploited, and harmful when they have the upper hand, as when the baseball players union protected PED cheats.

              • That’s not really true. They added in performance bonus’s. They did not renegotiate his base contract. They did this for 2 reasons, the main one being he was threatening to not pitch that year if he didn’t get more money. So it wasn’t completely out of the goodness of their hearts. And they hoped he would sign for more years IF he met those bonus’s, and if not would get them give him a qualifying offer and a draft pick when he went elsewhere afterwards. So it wasn’t out of the goodness of their hearts, it was to get him to pitch for them, at a still small salary (he made a little over a million, still a huge bargain for St Louis. It’s not like he got fair value), and to get a supplemental draft pick. The draft pick alone was probably worth the contract renegotiation for them no matter how he pitched if he met his bonus’s. It was a win-win for St Louis.

                All contracts in baseball are that, it’s part of the collective bargaining agreement. So saying it’s “everybody does it” is not really by choice, on either side. Actually the Yankees WANTED to void it, they were just not allowed by the CBA.

                Baseball is not a fair-salary deal for players. Unless ALL players, including rookies, can sign on for whatever salary they want, it’s not going to be. A player (at least american) has to go through the draft, get stuck with whatever team drafts them, go through the minors at the pace the major league team wants them to. Then be in bondage at around minimum salary until they reach enough years for arbitration/free agency. I’m not sure where the ethics are in that, but that’s what players are bound to.

                A-rod’s first 3 years in the majors, he earned league minumum, all 3 years, never got a raise. ($109k). It wasn’t until arbitration time he got small salary increases. Even then he gained $1mil per year more for 4 years (he earned $4 mill in his 7th year in the league. Above average but only about 1/3 behind the league leaders). Is that ethical? Now that he is earning his salary, he’s supposed to give it up? If a person has been held in bondage during his early years, while playing at a superstar level, should he have to give up salary towards the end when his performance slips? I don’t see the ethics in that. But this is how baseball has structured themselves, and I cannot fault any player who follows through on that. This is NOT a free market for players, the end of their career is when they earn their money.

                But this is WHY there is a union! Because the players, like many workers, were abused and exploited through history. Until the union came around.

                • 1. Bonus provisions are, in fact, renegotiated contracts in Lackey’s case.

                  2. Bondage. Give me a break. Minimum salary is a half million bucks for 6 months of work.

                  3. They aren’t abused NOW.

                  • 1. Yes, they have to be written into the contract, they don’t give them extra money if they play above and beyond. So if a player has a fantastic season, the best he can hope for is he will get more money in a future contract (if he gets to that).

                    2. Bondage is too strong a word. But basically a player has NO financial ability to improve his situation for the first few years. There is no ability, like in a private workforce, to quit and go somewhere else if they aren’t paid to what they want/or are worth. Remember, we’re talking about the ethics of a player not retiring when he cannot play up to his ability at the end, even though they had no ability to improve early.

                    3. Nope, so we should get rid of union so it can go back to the way it was? That sounds like an anti-vaccine person saying there are no diseases NOW, so get rid of them.

                    • Unions are the epitome of Eric Hoffer’s observation that every crusade becomes business and ends up a racket. No, you can’t get rid of them, but they do almost as much bad as good. All of them.

  6. “I would leave money on the table. ”

    Why sign a contract that for all intent and purposes is paying you for five good years over a period of ten if you are going to give a year back at the end when you and the Yankees knew you wouldn’t be able to perform that last year? That’s idiotic.

    • Why do you assume that this was the either agreement or assumption? Many Hall of Fame level players are productive into their early forties, barring injury. Wagner, Cobb, Williams, Yaz, Ortiz, Bonds…all of them could have played another year without losing it entirely. As long as they can play, they continue to be draws, even as part-time players. A-Rod was valuable as recently as last season. The real assumption is that great players have pride.

      • Our of curiosity, what’s your view on Ryan Howard? Who has been awful for years, and only gets by because he plays in a small ballpark and can hit some homeruns (but can’t hit for average, is an atrocious fielder, or run at all).

        To a lesser extent…Prince Fielder?

        • There’s a big difference between “Overpaid” and “Can’t play any more.” A-Rod reached the point where he can’t play any more. Proof: no body would sign him with the Yankees paying his whole salary. Howard would be picked up for nothing; as a platoon DH. Fielder, healthy, is probably still able to play.

          • Except A-Rod isn’t really worse then Howard. He’s barely behind Howard this year, and the only reason Howard is not as bad (or worse) is he plays in the tiny homer friendly park in Philly.

            Arod has had better years then Ryan Howard for the last few years, certainly was much better last year. Howard cannot play anymore, but he makes $25mil a year to be a horrible 1st baseman who can’t run. So the Phillies won’t cut him and eat the salary.

            I’m not sure anyone WOULD pick up Howard, he’s terrible, can’t field, is batting .185, and outside of a few home-park friendly homeruns (16 compared to Arod’s 9) can’t run at all. There is no value in him.

            Big IF on Fielder, he’s had 2 lousy seasons of the past 3. He was terrible last year, terrible 3 years ago, decent last year. Playing in one of the best hittings park in the AL, and making almost as much as Arod. Shouldn’t he quit? He’s signed for 4(!) more years after this one. And his season is just as bad as Arods (probably worse considering he plays in Texas).

            • Just read that Fielder has been declared medically disabled, and is through at 32….and he’s signed through 2020. Presumably there’s insurance on his contract.
              I think injuries are different. Part of long-term contracts is to protect players who get hurt doing their jobs and playing hard.

              • The Tigers pay $6 million of it and the Rangers pay $18 million. The Rangers have an insurance policy that will cover 50% of that $18 million so they are still on the hook for $9 million a year until 2020.

              • Wait, A-rod has been injured, a few times this year alone. Who is to say his playing abilities have not been affected by injuries in the past, or nagging ones we’re just not hearing about? I would say most players with a severe drop off in ability have had it happen because of injuries, more then just age catching up with them.

                Fielder is going to make almost $100 million dollars over the next 4 years. And he’s keeping it.

              • “Unions are the epitome of Eric Hoffer’s observation that every crusade becomes business and ends up a racket. No, you can’t get rid of them, but they do almost as much bad as good. All of them.”

                Bull shit Jack. You can not assume that every union does as much harm as it does good as you have not interacted or done business with every union .

                Ive got a lot more experience with unions then you do and I have seen some bad ones but for the most part they work to see that their members are properly trained, compensated and the employer gets a quality job for their money. This is especially how it is in the DMV area.

                • Unions, as a group, do more bad than good at this point. Look at Broadway and theater generally. Look at the Teamsters. Look at the auto industry. I didn’t write that all unions were destructive. At this point, however, they undeniably do more harm to society than good. Teachers unions! We can’t fire bad teachers. The union protects incompetents. That single union alone does more harm to society than any benefits from other unions can compensate for.

                  • You’re just anti union and it shows. Especially in your comments about the theater unions. The only times I’ve ever been mistreated was working in non union theaters. Little to no breaks, no proper meal breaks, having to supply parts of my costume because they hadn’t, fix my own costume because the costumer didn’t , fix props because there was no prop person to do so, having directors who thought they could say or do anything ton the cast with no repercussions, not paid on time, not paid at all, not paid in full. None of these things happened when I worked for union houses or for houses that worked under union rules . Ever.

                    • Theater unions are why it costs 100 bucks to see a Broadway play, Bill. You can’t deny it. It’s why musicals cost too much to produce, and why full orchestras are extinct. The stage hands union requires that senior hands get upwards of 200,000 bucks a year. Is that fair and healthy? It’s a shakedown. In orchestras, musicians, per the union, have to be hired even when they aren’t needed, and just sit, not doing a thing, for a contract? Fair, or racket?

                      I’m not anti-union at all. I’m anti-union greed and corruption, and unfortunately, almost all of them are greedy and corrupt. Power corrupts.

                    • And, to be fair, I am NOT anti-union, since their role in labor reforms was courageous and indispensable. Your statement would suggest some kind of bias. I have very solid, documented reasons to distrust current unions. You can start with the teachers.

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