Careers in professional sports don't get much more dramatic than A-Rod's, but even the most exciting dramas have to come to an end sometime. On Sunday, Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees held a press conference to announce the end of the former's career as a pro ball player, and unlike recent departing sports legends like Kobe Bryant or Derek Jeter, there won't be a lengthy buildup to the player's final game which will be played in less than a week.
A-Rod seemed understandably pretty sad to be leaving baseball, but financially at least he's coming out with a pretty incredible deal. According to the USA Today story on his retirement, he's set to receive the entirety of his remaining salary under his 10-year contract with the organization through 2017. That includes $7 million for the rest of this year, plus $21 million for next year, and he won't have to swing a bat once to get it – instead serving the team as an advisor for the rest of the span of his contract. That's a lot of money, but it's practically pocket change for A-Rod – a figure not wholly reflected by his generous $300 million net worth is the $452 million in on-field earnings Rodriguez has taken home over the course of his career, which, according to ESPN money expert Darren Rovell places him at the top of the list of career earners among not just baseball but all four of the major team sports.
Money wasn't the focus of the A-Rod press conference, though, which was instead centered on his sadness on leaving the Yankees but also the positive nature of the decision. Here's a little bit of Yankees' chairman Hal Steinbrenner's statement on A-Rod's diminished, but still important role in the team's future:
"He's a tireless worker and an astute student of the game. Alex has already proven to be a willing and effective mentor to many players who have come through our clubhouse, and I am confident that this next phase of his baseball life will bring out the best in Alex and the next generation of Yankees."
Alex Rodriguez is 41 years old, and despite surprising many naysayers with a better-than-expected 2015 season with his 3,000th hit and 33 home runs. But his other stats have declined steadily, perhaps most clearly in his playing time, and it seems that it was time to walk away before sinking further. Yankees GM Brian Cashman also spoke as part of the announcement, emphasizing the fact that A-Rod's decision to leave the team's roster was a mutual one:
"The one thing I've gotten from Alex is, he's at peace, and this was a joint decision between him and Hal Steinbrenner. I think Alex truly is at peace and comfortable with the decision he was a part of. That's the best I can represent from conversations with Alex and Hal."
And so, A-Rod will play his final game this Friday night vs. the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium. He'll have the chance to put the finishing touches on his remarkable career, including his career 696 home runs, which places him fourth in the entire history of the sport. Then, it will be up to the historians and the fans to sort out all the numerous peaks and valleys of Rodriguez's time in baseball.