NEW YORK » The New York Yankees are thinking about not making a $6 million payment to Alex Rodriguez if he hits six home runs and ties Willie Mays at 660 for fourth place on the career list.
Rodriguez signed a $275 million, 10-year contract with the team in December 2007 and a separate marketing agreement that called for $6 million payments for up to five milestone accomplishments designated by the Yankees. Each payment is due within 15 days of designation and is in exchange for rights such as using Rodriguez’s name and image in selling licensed goods.
At the time of the marketing agreement, those accomplishments were contemplated to be tying the home run totals of Mays, Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds, (762), and breaking Bonds’ major league record.
Rodriguez returns to the team next month after a season-long drug suspension and has three seasons and $61 million in guaranteed money remaining in his contract.
New York’s thought process on the $6 million payment, first reported by the Daily News, was described to The Associated Press on Monday by a person familiar with the deal who spoke on condition of anonymity because no public statements were authorized. The Yankees are thinking of letting any accomplishment pass without declaring it a milestone.
A failure to declare a milestone and make a payment likely would trigger a grievance on Rodriguez’s behalf by the Major League Baseball Players Association. Barring a settlement, the case would be heard by an arbitrator.
Rodriguez’s spokesman, Ron Berkowitz, declined comment.
A-Rod met last week with Rob Manfred, who headed the investigation of the Biogenesis of the America clinic that led to the player’s suspension for violation of baseball’s drug agreement and labor contract.
"Occasionally when players have an issue, they have asked me for advice, come to see me, wanted to talk to me about something," Manfred said Monday. "I don’t put a particular significance on this meeting. It was one of those things. A player wanted to come in. We had a brief meeting."
Rodriguez, a three-time AL MVP, turns 40 in July, and the Yankees have said they plan to shift him from third base to designated hitter.