Making dollars and sense
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Mariners already offer Alex Rodriguez office space at Safeco Field, one of the supposed perks that caused the New York Mets to pull out of contention for the free-agent shortstop. But it's also available to all other Mariner players, team officials say.
In addition, General Manager Pat Gillick said the team would not agree to a contract that gave Rodriguez preferential treatment, such as a chartered jet to use at his leisure. That's one of the amenities supposedly being sought by Rodriguez's agent, Scott Boras, though yesterday, Boras denied any such demands.
"There are certain necessities of life - water, heat and shelter - that everyone is entitled to," Gillick said. "The only time players of ours receive preferential treatment is on the first and 15th. All players have the same accommodations, the same transportation, the same meeting rooms. It's just that some are treated more preferentially on the first and 15th."
Rodriguez is seeking to become the most preferentially paid player in baseball history - perhaps as high as $25 million a year for 12 years. The Mets - in announcing Monday they were no longer in the running for Rodriguez, despite being considered the favorites to land him - balked at the ancillary demands reportedly tossed out by Boras in discussions with clubs.
According to published reports in various New York newspapers, Rodriguez has asked for an office in his home stadium, four employees to handle his off-field obligations, the most billboard presence of any athlete in his city, unlimited use of the team logo and uniform for his Web site, a tent at the club's spring-training facility to sell Rodriguez merchandise and a luxury box at home and on the road.
In various damage-control interviews yesterday, Boras said he only told teams what the Mariners did for Rodriguez in Seattle, including billboards displayed in the city and a conference room at Safeco Field where he could meet with his marketing people.
"These things were helpful to Alex," Boras told The Associated Press. "They were helpful in the sense that it showed the city of Seattle embraced Alex. It was a comfort thing, never a demand."
Gillick confirmed there is a room adjacent to the Mariner clubhouse that is available to any player - not just Rodriguez - for business purposes.
"We give office space to all our players," Gillick said. "They can use that area any time to talk to their agent. A lot of guys have meetings next to the clubhouse."
Gillick also said that on occasion the club has made room in its executive offices for players to have business meetings, but stressed, "No player occupies the office permanently."
"If they wish to use our offices for a meeting, they can, no matter who," he said. "If we have space available, we'd probably allow them to use it for a couple of hours. I think it happened. I believe Edgar (Martinez) and Alex both, on a couple of occasions, used the space for meetings with merchandising people."
The Mariners remain hopeful they can sign Rodriguez, and the Mets' departure, if it holds, surely enhances their chances. The Braves and White Sox are considered top contenders, while many baseball people believe the Dodgers will eventually be a factor, despite cautious comments from General Manager Kevin Malone.
Gillick said he was "surprised" to hear of the Mets' departure and said the club was buoyed. "They were probably one of the more competitive teams (for Rodriguez), and when one of the more competitive teams decides to drop out of the hunt, it gives you a little added incentive."
In an interview on CNBC, however, Boras expressed reservations that the Mets are out for good. "I don't think teams drop out; teams make decisions," he said. "If the New York Mets can't sign a particular player they may have interest in today, they may be right in the A-Rod hunt tomorrow."
Boras denied that Rodriguez is seeking the various perks Phillips said would compromise "the fabric of the team."
"There were no demands made," Boras told The Associated Press. "When he (Phillips) called to tell me about his concerns about what Seattle had done with Alex, I listened to what he said and told him Alex is comfortable with the normal and customary treatment the New York Mets give their players."
Phillips disputed that statement in a conference call with reporters. "What he says now is that he wants to be treated like any other player on the team," he said. "Then, it was show us the design on how we will market around the player. How many billboards will be put up in the city? How will the other players feel about being moved into a secondary role? It was that sort of tone and that sort of content."
"Taken literally, it was not written into the contract (perks), but it was part of the environment this player needed," Phillips said.
"All I can say is I am confident that I heard him very accurately in a two-hour meeting last Tuesday. And I got confirmation of what I heard. The bulk of the discussion centered on the other stuff and not the structure of the contract. It was about how will the other players on the team feel with Alex being the lead guy."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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