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Yankees bid for Rodriguez approved

Rodriguez switch to the New York Yankees sparks great debate
Rodriguez switch to the New York Yankees sparks great debate

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NEW YORK -- All-Star Alex Rodriguez, the richest player in Major League Baseball, has joined New York Yankees after commissioner Bud Selig approved the trade from the Texas Rangers.

Rodriguez, a shortstop who will move to third base, was exchanged for Alfonso Soriano and a player to be named later -- with Yankees payroll set to hit $200m.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman described the deal as "perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" with Rodriguez guaranteed a record $189m over the next seven years.

"I am very concerned about the large amount of cash consideration involved in the transaction and the length of time over which the cash is being paid," Selig said.

"I want to make it abundantly clear to all clubs that I will not allow cash transfers of this magnitude to become the norm.

"However, given the unique circumstances, including the size, length and complexity of Mr. Rodriguez's contract (Rangers are picking up $67m of his salary) and the quality of the talent moving in both directions, I have decided to approve the transaction."

Rangers had been unable to afford enough pitching talent to build a competitive club around "A-Rod" because of the heavy drain his salary took on the club's total payroll.

"We asked if we could achieve a championship faster doing this deal or not making this deal," Rangers owner Tom Hicks said. "We felt we could make it faster doing this deal."

Rangers tried two months ago to trade Rodriguez to Boston Red Sox, but the Yankees' main rival wanted the Rangers to carry the load for most of the star's salary, a condition that led to the deal falling through.

Rodriguez, who is moving from shortstop to third base, will team with shortstop Derek Jeter to provide what commentators are calling the best left-side infield combination ever.

Moreover, the Yankees 'dream team' will also include other leading lights in Kenny Lofton, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada and Japan's Hideki Matsui.

U.S. President 'surprised'

Even U.S. President George W. Bush had an opinion on the trade. "I was as surprised as anyone when I read about it," he said. "The Yanks will have one heck of a team with him in the infield."

Rather than have Rodriguez replace Yankees captain Derek Jeter at shortstop, Rodriguez is likely to replace third baseman Aaron Boone who tore knee ligaments playing basketball.

Signing the 28-year-old will increase the luxury tax amount the Yankees must pay for violating baseball salary limits. But it will be worth it to land a hometown talent and taunt the rival Red Sox.

"In acquiring Alex Rodriguez, we are bringing to New York one of the premier players in the history of the game," Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said.

"As I've always said, the way New Yorkers back us we have to produce for them."

Rodriguez won the American League Most Valuable Player award last year after hitting .298 with 47 home runs and 118 runs batted in for the last-place Rangers.

Texas finished last in each of Rodriguez's three seasons there, going a combined 216-269 and ranking a combined 99 games out of first place.

Conversely, the Yankees are the top team in American sports history, claiming a record 26 World Series titles including four of the last seven.

But after losing the World Series in 2001 and 2003 and being eliminated in the first round of the 2002 playoffs, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner has become impatient for another championship edition of the "Bronx Bombers".

Rodriguez is a lifetime .308 hitter with 345 homers and 990 RBI over parts of 10 seasons, the first seven of which came with Seattle. He led the league in homers each of the last three seasons and has not hit fewer than 41 since 1997.

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