Mariners: What If… Alex Rodriguez didn’t leave and Stayed In Seattle
Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod) can be considered one of the best infielders in Seattle Mariners history. In fact, his ability to accomplish what he did for the Mariners at such a young age plants him at #7 in our top 12 Mariners of all-time. We continue our “What-If Wednesday” series with A-Rod, the highest regarded draft pick at the time since Ken Griffey Jr who also made the decision to take his talents somewhere else for the remainder of his playing career.
A-Rod was the #1 overall pick in the draft on June 3rd, 1993. His contract that he signed required that he would be in the Major Leagues by September 1994 (something we don’t see anymore with all of the “service time manipulation” occurring). The team, in a sense, did right by him from the moment he was drafted until the moment he entered free agency. But, even with the Mariners doing right by him, A-Rod left.
So, What If Alex Rodriguez Stayed In Seattle?
Seriously, what if A-Rod didn’t leave? What if he didn’t see the five-year contract offer from the Mariners as a disrespect to his talent? What if A-Rod didn’t succumb to the voice of Scott Boras in his ear telling him to reset the market with a record-setting 10 year 252 million dollar deal? Well, Rodriguez would have instead been celebrated in Seattle the way that players like Griffey Jr., Ichiro, and others who spent the majority of their career with the Mariners.
We are going to operate in the alternate reality where Rodriguez accepted the 5 years at 19 million-per-year offer that has been reported. With Rodriguez returning to the Mariners for a maximum of 5 years that would have meant he would have stayed through the 2005 season, if not longer. This means the magical 2001 season could have been even more special with A-Rod in the fold, helping to lead the charge. With Ichiro coming into the fold that year as well, A-Rod and the young phenom from Japan would have formed an All star-powered duo in the Emerald City.
Additionally, it would have prevented the Mariners from having to select a shortstop in the first round of the MLB draft two out of the four years following his departure (Michael Garciaparra and Adam Jones). Instead, they could have continued to build the core to sustain both a “win-now” philosophy while focusing on drafting more immediate needs.
What Would Have Been The Ripple Effect?
Honestly, I think this is one of the hardest parts of this exercise. Typically with these, you either project that the team “would have made the playoffs”. But, in this case, the team both made the playoffs and won the most games in MLB history without having A-Rod. So, I believe that the Mariners would have surpassed the record in 2001, continued to be successful in 2002, and then find a way to trade A-Rod for something of value as he entered his last year before his 2 option years.
Similar to Jr., A-Rod would have been a desirable asset to any team (see the Rangers in 2000). But, it would have been interesting to see what the Mariners would have needed at that point if A-Rod continued on his path of progression. The infield of Bret Boone, John Olerud, David Bell, and Carlos Guillen was an extremely impactful part of the 2001 team. But, I can’t help to wonder what it would have looked like with A-Rod at SS instead of Guillen.
Alex Rodriguez Made The Unpopular (but) Right Choice…
Whenever a player has the opportunity to set both himself and his family up for success financially, it is very hard to pass up. A-Rod could have still made a large sum of money throughout his career without alienating himself to a fanbase that supported him through his younger years of development.
But, with Scott Boras in his ear, he chose to take the money instead of being part of the best season in Mariners franchise history. Thank you, Alex Rodriguez, for the memories and various opportunities to throw Monopoly money at you when you came to Safeco Field!
Next week we will be looking at an interesting “What If” that involves a member of the 1995 team! Post in the comments below who you think it will be!