March 8, 2000
Mariners: A-Rod Will Stay in 2000
Filed at 4:25 p.m. EST
By The Associated Press
PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) -- The decision is final, at least for as long as the Mariners stay in contention for a playoff spot this season: Alex Rodriguez stays in Seattle.
``We have no plans to trade him,'' Mariners chairman Howard Lincoln said Wednesday. ``I am convinced that the best way to win in 2000 is for Alex to be a Mariner, and the best way for us to keep Alex long term is for us to win in 2000.''
After trading Ken Griffey Jr. to Cincinnati on Feb. 10, the Mariners concluded they couldn't deal Rodriguez, even if they worry he might flee as a free agent after the season.
``We have a very good pitching staff and we have a very good ballclub,'' Rodriguez said. ``In my opinion, we're no longer going to be the team that hits tons of long balls and loses games. We're going to be a team that is a lot more fun to watch. We're going to be a team that's getting Ws and Ws, and that's what I'm excited about.''
The announcement came after the third meeting among the team's top executives, Rodriguez and his agent, Scott Boras.
Rodriguez and Boras have repeatedly said they won't consider a contract extension until after the season. They met with the Mariners twice during the offseason and again Tuesday.
``He wanted to make sure they knew that, aside from all the speculation and rumors, Seattle is a place he'll strongly consider, provided there's a commitment to being a consistent winner,'' Boras said. ``He wanted to see how this new regime put a team together. He was very pleased with what they did in the offseason, adding pitching.''
The first player taken in the 1993 amateur draft, Rodriguez had another stellar season in 1999 despite missing 32 games while on the disabled list following knee surgery. He hit .285 with 42 homers and 111 RBIs in 129 games.
Since Lincoln took over from John Ellis and hired general manager Pat Gillick to replace Woody Woodward, the team has signed free agents Aaron Sele, John Olerud, Arthur Rhodes, Mark McLemore and Kazuhiro Sasaki and has acquired Mike Cameron and Brett Tomko in the Griffey trade.
``We want to win in 2000,'' Gillick said. ``We're here to win and we think the best way to win is with Alex Rodriguez in the lineup. There have been rumors that we've been shopping Alex. I want you to know that's completely untrue. We have not shopped Alex at any time.''
With Griffey in Cincinnati, the Mariners will be Rodriguez's team now.
``We're both very interested in winning and winning big,'' he said. ``For some reason, there's a perception out there that we've made a lateral move or perhaps a move backward. I'm here to say that I'm very excited about the team we have here.''
Rodriguez is making $4.2 million this year and speculation has him seeking a $200 million, 10-year deal.
``This is a big decision for the Mariners,'' Lincoln said. ``This is a decision we spent a lot of time on. Let me be clear: There are no side agreements or secret deals. This was not a hard decision to make, but it was a decision that we wanted to make after we had an opportunity to spend some quality time with Alex and Scott. We wanted to get this decision behind us so that Alex could concentrate on the balance of spring training and, more important, on the season.''
Lincoln conceded the Mariners could change their mind before the July 31 trade deadline if the team dropped out of the pennant race.
``Our plan is not to trade Alex,'' he said. ``Our plan is to have a winning season. But there's always unforeseen possibilities. There's always a chance that things could go wrong and that we would have to re-evaluate our position before the July 31 trading deadline.
``But let me make it very clear. That's not what we're talking about here. Our plan is to win, and Alex's plan is to win and Alex Rodriguez is going to be in a Mariners' uniform for the balance of 2000 and, if I have anything to do about it, for a long time after that.''