AL voters name Rodriguez MVP

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 18, 2003

NEW YORK - For sale: American League MVP.

Asking price: about $179 million.

An hour after becoming only the second player from a last-place team to win a Most Valuable Player award, Alex Rodriguez confirmed that the Texas Rangers have talked to him about a possible trade.

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''Management has approached me with a situation and some choices, and I'm just going to keep my doors open right now,'' Rodriguez said Monday from Mexico during a conference call.

Rodriguez received 242 points for the American League award in voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Toronto first baseman Carlos Delgado was second with 213 points, followed by New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada with 194.

Showing the split among the writers, 10 players received first-place votes, one short of the record set in the 1977 AL vote and matching the total in the 1947 NL vote.

Rodriguez was the only player picked on every ballot. He hit .298, tied for the major league lead with 47 homers, and led the AL in runs (124) and slugging percentage (.600). He had 118 RBIs, second in the AL to Delgado's 145.

Regarded by many as the best all-around player in the league, Rodriguez became the first AL player to win the MVP while playing for a last-place team. Andre Dawson won the 1987 NL award with the last-place Chicago Cubs.

Last year, Rodriguez finished second in MVP voting to Oakland shortstop Miguel Tejada and in 1996 he finished three points behind the Rangers' Juan Gonzalez.

''It means the world to me,'' Rodriguez said. ''I'm so proud. It really is a validation to all the hard work and dedication.''

Rodriguez has completed three seasons of a $252 million, 10-year contract, the richest in baseball history. He has been paid $56 million, gets another $1 million on Dec. 1 and is owed $12 million plus interest in deferred payments from the first three seasons. An additional $4 million of the signing bonus is due in 2004 and 2005.

Since the team signing the original contract usually pays the signing bonus, that leaves $179 million remaining over the final seven years, an average yearly payout of $25.57 million.

Rodriguez said he thought there had been talks about a possible trade with ''three of four teams'' but didn't elaborate. Only a handful of large-market teams, such as the Mets, Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles and Dodgers, could take on all of that contract.

''I did not approach management, management approached me,'' Rodriguez said. ''I'm just going to leave the door open.''

While Rodriguez praised Texas owner Tom Hicks, he refused comment several times when asked about his relationship with general manager John Hart and manager Buck Showalter.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Monday that Rodriguez hasn't returned Showalter's telephone calls and was angered by the firing of a clubhouse attendant.

''I don't get an immediate callback from everybody, and they don't always from me,'' Showalter said on a conference call. ''I don't take it personal.''

Regarding a possible trade, Hart said, ''We've made it very clear that we think Alex is going to be here. At the same time, we're not going to turn the phones off.''

Hart said Hicks and Rodriguez had a conversation early in the offseason to get A-Rod's feedback.

''Alex and the club both agreed we weren't looking to trade, but if we were contacted regarding the possibility of a deal, Alex basically said he'd keep his options open,'' Hart said.

''We had some conversations with some clubs early on in the winter, but none the last several weeks,'' he said. ''I don't see much opportunity on the trade front.''

Rodriguez, who has the right to veto trades, said that after he was approached by the team about a possible trade, he thought about it for a few days, then gave the team ''flexibility'' to discuss a deal.

He realizes it would be difficult to trade such a large contract.

''I'll probably end up being the shortstop for the Texas Rangers this year, and that's fine with me,'' Rodriguez said.

He was picked first on six ballots, the fewest for an MVP winner since the New York Yankees' Yogi Berra in 1951. Delgado and Posada got five firsts each.

Texas went 71-91 this year and has finished last in the AL West in all three of his seasons with the Rangers.

''It's been a rough three years in Texas,'' Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez, the first AL MVP since 1979 without a .300 batting average, didn't think he would win this year.

''I felt like I was driving myself crazy over this award,'' he said. ''In years past, I've been sitting by the phone praying.''

Rodriguez joined the Rangers after the 2000 season and has led the league in homers in all three years.

Delgado hit .302 with 42 homers for Toronto, while Posada batted .281 for the Yankees with 30 homers and 101 RBIs.

''Obviously, I was expecting to get the award and that wasn't the case,'' Delgado said. ''If they were going to pick somebody from a team that did not make it to the playoffs I think it would have given me an edge, but that's what I get for thinking, I guess.''

Shannon Stewart, traded from Toronto to Minnesota during the season, was fourth with three first-place votes and 140 points. Boston's David Ortiz was fifth with four firsts and 130 points.

Boston's Manny Ramirez and Nomar Garciaparra, Toronto's Vernon Wells, Oakland's Miguel Tejada and the Yankees' Jason Giambi got one first-place vote each. Tejada was last year's MVP.

Rodriguez gets a $500,000 bonus added to his $21 million salary, and Stewart gets $25,000 for finishing fourth. Because he finished 10th, Seattle second baseman Bret Boone gets an automatic $250,000 raise to $8.25 million.