Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Japan Club Asked about a Deal for Rodriguez ; Yankees Never Responded after Fukuoka Set Sights on High-Priced Infielder

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Japan Club Asked about a Deal for Rodriguez ; Yankees Never Responded after Fukuoka Set Sights on High-Priced Infielder

Article excerpt

The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks reached out to the New York Yankees last November about acquiring the high-priced third baseman, but nothing ever came of it.

At the end of last year, after Alex Rodriguez had been pinch-hit for and benched in the playoffs, speculation raged that he would be traded, cut or somehow removed from the New York Yankees' roster. The only problem with any of those possibilities was that no team was willing to take his enormous contract, or so it was thought.

It turns out there was at least one, and if Rodriguez had been healthy and was willing to obtain an international work visa, he might be Japan's problem right now.

Last November, the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks reached out to the Yankees through an intermediary and expressed interest in obtaining Rodriguez, according to two baseball officials who were told of the informal inquiry.

The Yankees never engaged the Hawks in discussions because they knew it could not work for two obvious reasons. At the time, the Yankees knew that Rodriguez needed extensive hip surgery that would sideline him at least half the season. They would have been obliged to inform the Hawks, and at that point, their interest would almost certainly have crumbled.

But even more important, the Yankees knew there was no chance that Rodriguez would agree to the transfer at this point in his career. So the matter was simply dropped. A few weeks later, the Yankees announced that Rodriguez had a torn labrum in his hip and would require surgery and a lengthy rehabilitation.

If the Hawks were wondering why they had not heard back before that, they finally had their answer.

Brian Cashman, the Yankees' general manager, said he would not comment on the matter, and Itaru Kobayashi, the Hawks' general manager, did not return a telephone call. It is not known whether the matter was brought to Rodriguez's attention.

The Yankees would be only too happy if they could get an American team to show similar interest.

Going into this season, Rodriguez had $114 million remaining on his contract over the next five years, but he is experiencing a rapid decline in production. …

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