Alex Rodriguez at 40: The resurgence

Rob Stewart

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JULY 25: Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees watches after hitting a two-run home run against the Minnesota Twins during the seventh inning of the game on July 25, 2015 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees watches after hitting a two-run home run against the Minnesota Twins during the seventh inning of the game on July 25, 2015 at Target Field in Minneapolis. (Source: MCT Direct)

In the fall of 2003, Yankees third baseman Aaron Boone hit a walk-off home run to left field that ended the Red Sox season. Although the Yankees went on to lose the World Series to the Florida Marlins, they would prevail over the Red Sox again in the off-season.

Later that fall, a trade was agreed upon between the Red Sox and the Rangers, which would send Alex Rodriguez, the league’s best shortstop, to the Boston Red Sox. The deal contained Manny Ramirez and young pitcher Jon Lester heading to Texas. In another deal, the Red Sox would trade Nomar Garciaparra to the Chicago White Sox for Magglio Ordonez, who would fill the void left by trading Manny Ramirez and starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy.

After the trade fell through due to the Major League Players Association not agreeing on a contract restructure for the Red Sox and Rodriguez, the best player in baseball became available.

The Yankees had no need for the league’s best shortstop. After all, they had the second-best shortstop in the MLB and Yankees Captain Derek Jeter. In 1996, Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles  made a move to third base after young up-and-comer Manny Alexander was ready to start as shortstop.

With that move in mind, it was an afterthought that Alex Rodriguez would accept a position change to third base. After all, American League Championship Series hero Aaron Boone was the current third baseman for the Yankees. On Dec. 16 2003, a report came out that Boone had torn his ACL in a pickup basketball game, and this blew the door open for a deal that would send A-ROD to the Yankees.

On Feb. 16, 2004, a deal that would send Alex Rodriguez to the New York Yankees for Alfonso Soriano and Joaquín Árias was agreed upon. Árias was picked over Robinson Canó in the list of “throw in” players because he was a more polished defender and two years younger. Canó ended being the best second baseman in the MLB for several years while having a career .307 average.

The reigning American League MVP took the position change from shortstop to third base and number change from 3 to 13 to help facilitate the trade. After all, No. 3 had been retired from another player that the Yankees stole from the Red Sox, Babe Ruth.

Rodriguez went on to win two MVP awards with the Yankees and the 2009 World Series, sharing the moment with his former rival and now teammate Derek Jeter. While steroids and dating drama has certainly scarred his reputation in New York, make no mistake–Alex Rodriguez is one of the greatest baseball players of all time.

After being suspended for the entire 2014 season, Alex Rodriguez made a comeback and again a position change. This time, he is taking the designated hitter spot, which means that he will probably never play meaningful innings in the field again.

Rodriguez has changed this year. After spending the entire year away from baseball, he issued a note of apology to the fans and Major League Baseball. The one up-and-comer superstar, then three-time MVP, turned MLB’s most-hated has had himself a resurgence this year. He has had 23 home runs and is hitting .277 with 58 RBI’s.

Rodriguez turned 40 years old on July 27, and just two days prior, July 25, he had a three home-run game–his first in over five years. The Yankees will take on the Texas Rangers in a three-game series starting Monday, the same place where he signed a 10-year, $252 million deal in 2001 before hitting 146 home runs in three seasons before the trade to New York.