Just three years into his then-record-setting 10-year/$252 million contract with the Texas Rangers, Alex Rodriguez was ready to get out. While he was putting up huge numbers and was coming off an AL MVP-winning season in which he had a slash line of .298/.396/.600 with a league-best 47 home runs and 118 runs batted in, the Rangers hadn’t won more than 73 games in the three seasons since A.Rod’s arrival, and he was tired of losing.
Wanting to join a contender, Rodriguez had his sights set on joining the Boston Red Sox, who were on the cusp of ending the “Curse of the Bambino” but had just had their hearts broken in the 2003 ALCS in a dramatic seven-game series loss to the rival New York Yankees. And for a short time, it actually seemed as if A.Rod was going to get his wish as a blockbuster, multiteam deal was actually in place to send him from the Lone Star State to Beantown.
However, the MLBPA eventually blocked the trade, and Rodriguez did not take the news well.
Alex Rodriguez was set to be traded to the Boston Red Sox following the 2003 MLB season
Following the ALCS loss to the Yankees, which, of course, ended with Aaron Boone’s dramatic 11th-inning walk-off homer in Game 7, then-Boston general manager Theo Epstein was looking for that final piece of the puzzle and felt Rodriguez just might be it.
The problem was that A.Rod still had seven years and $179 million remaining on his contract, which the Red Sox didn’t want to take on. However, as trade talks between the Rangers and Red Sox began to heat up, Rodriguez agreed to lower his yearly salary by four million bucks in exchange for the opportunity to opt out of the deal every season after 2005. There was also the matter of what the Red Sox would do with shortstop Nomar Garciaparra as that’s the position A.Rod was still playing at the time.
But, as he does, Epstein was able to figure everything out and got the Chicago White Sox involved. Once all was said and done, the Red Sox would have gotten Rodriguez from the Rangers and All-Star outfielder Magglio Ordonez and right-handed pitcher Brandon McCarthy from the White Sox while sending Manny Ramirez and then-19-year-old Jon Lester to Texas and Nomar and a reliever to the Windy City.
That’s the epitome of the term “blockbuster deal,” am I right?
The trade was rejected by the MLBPA
With all of the pieces in place, Rodriguez, the Rangers, the Red Sox, and the White Sox all agreed to the trade, which simply should be astonishing given everything we know now. But the deal had one final hurdle to clear, that being approval from the Major League Baseball Players Association.
That hurdle obviously wasn’t cleared.
Citing concerns over how Rodriguez’s altered contract was structured, the MLBPA rejected the deal as it felt it opened the door to future situations in which teams might attempt to find ways around paying players.
As mentioned, the Red Sox weren’t interested in taking on A.Rod’s full salary, and while talks continued for a short time, they eventually died.
Rodriguez says he ‘got bombed and threw up in the streets of New York’ after his trade to the Red Sox was nixed
Upon hearing the news that his dream trade to the Red Sox had been nixed, Rodriguez didn’t take the news well. In a recent appearance with his fellow ESPN employee, Buster Olney, A.Rod discussed his disappointment and said he took his frustrations out on his liver (h/t CBS Boston).
“It was a backbreaker. I remember going out with my buddies in New York, and Cynthia [his former wife], and we all went out to [a club]. We were out all night. I’m not a drinker; I got bombed that night. And literally, we used to use limos at that time, and like at 4 or 5 in the morning, I threw up on the streets of New York from, like, disappointment. It was like two months of just like, ‘Ugh!’ I’ll never forget that night.”Alex Rodriguez
While Rodriguez was (and apparently still is) disappointed about not being moved to Boston, Red Sox fans are likely pleased the deal never went down.
Ramirez helped the Red Sox to their first World Series title in 86 seasons the following year, beating Rodriguez, who was traded to the Bronx in January 2004, and the Yankees on the way. Unfortunately for Garciaparra, he wasn’t involved in the title win as he was traded to the Chicago Cubs at the ’04 deadline.
Ramirez went on to win a second title in Beantown in 2007, a series in which Lester started and won the final game of a four-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies. Lester won a second title with the Red Sox in 2013.
And it’s not as if White Sox fans could be too broken up about anything as they ended their 88-year championship drought by sweeping the Houston Astros in the 2005 World Series.
As for Rodriguez, he finally captured that elusive World Series win in 2009 as the Yankees bested the Philadelphia Phillies in six games. Now one just has to wonder if A.Rod got bombed and threw up on the streets of New York in the ensuing celebration.
Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference