The Alex Rodriguez hot stove is just starting to spark to life now that he's opted out of the last three years of his contract with the New York Yankees. The Yanks say they're done with A-Rod, won't negotiate with him, and since most other teams can't afford him, the list of possible destinations for the game's best player is short.
And fairly obvious. The two L.A. teams, the Mets, Red Sox, Cubs, Giants. The Tigers are in the mix too, and while they're a little bit not-like-the-other in that group, they have a history of getting along with Rodriguez's agent, Scott Boras.
Also, they have Brandon Inge playing third base.
On the Boras score, the Dodgers might be off the list, since they're reportedly not on speaking terms with him after his client J.D. Drew opted out of his contract with them last year.
Boras, by the way, issued an apology for announcing A-Rod's decision the day of Game 4 of the World Series, widely seen around baseball as an oafish move. I think it was an oafish move, but I also think people made a whole lot bigger deal about it than it deserved.
I wonder why almost all of the whither A-Rod speculation takes as a given that he'll be signed as a third baseman. The only reason he moved from shortstop to third base four years ago was that Derek Jeter, a much lesser shortstop than A-Rod, was manning the position and wasn't going to move.
Rodriguez has said he'd be willing to move back to short, where his value would be even greater than it is as a third baseman, where he's the best player in the game. He'll turn 33 at midseason next year, so he's not likely to be a shortstop for the entire run of a long contract, even if we define a long contract as being half of the 10 years he's reportedly -- and ridiculously -- seeking.
But Derek Jeter's more than a year older, and if he were a free agent he'd be shopping himself -- and getting bought -- as a shortstop. Cal Ripken Jr., the prototype of the big shortstop like A-Rod, played the position until he was 36, though that was probably a year or two too long.
I think if I were the Boston Red Sox I would sign A-Rod for some amount of money that would make even other rich teams throw up in their mouths. I'd try to re-sign Mike Lowell for two years, then move Rodriguez back to third in 2010. But I wouldn't worry too much about that part of the equation.
How much would it be worth to the Sox to beat the Yankees with Rodriguez hitting home runs? Just for the chance at that, I'd dig pretty deep. And of course, the Red Sox can dig pretty deep. And every fan who was chanting, "Don't sign A-Rod!" this week at the World Series would be in hog heaven every time Rodriguez so much as fielded a grounder against the Bombers.
I don't care who you root for or against, A-Rod to Boston would be a whole lot more fun than A-Rod to anywhere else.
If I had to bet on who's going to sign him, I'd say the Angels, with the Red Sox second and the Tigers third.
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Schilling shares about free agency [PERMALINK]
Speaking of free agency and the hot stove, keep an eye on Curt Schilling's blog, 38Pitches.
Schilling is a free agent for the first time in his career at the age of 40, and if his first posting on the subject, Free Agency? Weird," is any indication, he plans to use the blog to chronicle the experience.
That should be pretty good. He's already used the blog to list the teams he'd consider if he's not able to come to an agreement with his top choice, the Red Sox: "Cleveland, Detroit, Anaheim, New York Mets, Philadelphia, Atlanta, L.A., S.D., Arizona, Chicago Cubs, St. Louis, Milwaukee."
He writes that these are "pretty much teams in cities we [he and his family] agree would be ok for our last year, and teams I think have a legitimate shot at being in the post season and/or World Series." He adds, "There are a million little things that go into this from stadiums to school districts to travel to spring training to etc."
Not knowing anything about that calculus, it looks a little strange to me that he includes the Cubs and not the White Sox. They had a down year in '07, but is it fair to write them off for '08 already?