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|Agent Scott Boras (far left) will no longer be in Alex Rodriguez's corner.|
NEW YORK -- Why would anyone "fire" an agent while continuing to pay his fee for the next seven years?
That is among the burning questions hanging over the divorce between Alex Rodriguez and Scott Boras, which right now appears amicable but certainly has the potential to get very messy.
Following several days of unconfirmed and unacknowledged published reports that the A-Rod/Boras alliance had ended after more than 17 years, Rodriguez finally addressed the issue Friday after ESPNNewYork.com asked about it.
"Well, I'm not going to get into any details, that's for sure," he said during a brief interview before a game between the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays. "But what I can tell you is this: Scott and I had a good run. Nothing drastic happened, but at this point in my career, my goal is to finish as a New York Yankee and be a world champion again. And some of the things I needed 20 years ago I really don't need now."
It was a statement that answered one question but leaves many more unanswered.
What caused a player to split from an agent who had secured nearly a half-billion dollars in baseball salary for him over the past decade? Who is representing him now? And why would you fire someone who still has a legal claim on your baseball earnings from now until 2017?
Rodriguez was unavailable for comment after the game. But as one Yankees source told me Friday, "I have no idea what Alex is doing here. There has to be more to this than meets the eye."
From interviews with several sources familiar with Rodriguez and Boras -- none of whom who would speak for attribution -- the consensus of opinion is a familiar one: A-Rod has fallen under the spell of a cadre of Hollywood types, led by Guy Oseary, Madonna's PR guru, who want to take over control of his career.
"They knew that as long as [Boras] was his agent, they would never be able to claim they represented Alex," one source said. "They wanted to escape the cloud of Boras."
Fine, but why the need to completely sever ties with the Boras Corp., which, in addition to contract negotiations, offers its clients psychological counseling, investment advice and physical training, among other services? According to published reports, Rodriguez is contractually bound to pay Boras something like $11.8 million over the next seven years.
The only logical reason -- and this is only an educated guess -- is that Rodriguez or one of his new advisers thinks they can find a loophole that allows A-Rod not to have to pay Boras' remaining agents fee.
"These Hollywood lawyers can find a way out of any contract," a TV industry source said. "Remember when NBC thought it had an iron-clad contract with David Letterman?"
Boras did not return phone calls or e-mail messages seeking comment Thursday, and it makes perfect sense for him to lie low.
Clearly, A-Rod -- who will be 42 years old when his Yankees contract runs out -- has negotiated his last baseball contract.
Just as clearly, Boras has not. It would not be good for business, present or future, for Boras to get into a public mudslinging match with his highest-profile client. He doesn't need to have that blotch on the public record when it comes time to recruit the next Stephen Strasburg or Jason Heyward. So even if Boras decides to emerge from his foxhole, you can bet he will have nothing but good things to say about Rodriguez.
But behind the scenes, sources with knowledge of the situation tell ESPNNewYork.com that friction has been brewing since Oseary became part of Rodriguez's entourage in 2007. According to one source, Boras has objected to the relationship from the start, believing A-Rod's infatuation with Hollywood stardom detracts from the things he must do to continue playing at the level that earned him his original 10-year, $250 million deal from the Texas Rangers, and the 10-year, $275 million extension the Yankees gave him following his 2007 MVP season and subsequent opt-out from his contract.
"[Boras] doesn't like any of that crowd, doesn't like the scene, and has said so may times," the source said. "And every time, it really pisses Alex off."
The same source said there also is a possibility that after nearly 20 years of listening to Boras' attempts to control everything from his diet to his after-hours conduct, A-Rod has simply tuned him out.
"He's just tired of listening to him," the source said. "He's under a lot of pressure from his new people to get rid of [Boras]. Alex wants to please people, and believe me, those people are driving this kid nuts."
Longtime associates of Rodriguez who for years went through Boras to arrange access to A-Rod now must go through Oseary or Lisa Gilson, Rodriguez's personal assistant. "Alex just lost confidence in Scott," a Yankees source told me. "The people he's wth now, they all got egos and want to be in control of the show. That's why they want Scott out."
"[Rodriguez] thinks he needs Oseary to meet people like Cameron Diaz and Kate Hudson," said one source, who is admittedly pro-Boras. "He's so enamored of that whole Hollywood scene, and he knows [Boras] is against it."
Still, it makes no sense that Rodriguez, no matter how starstruck he might or might not be, would fire an agent solely so he could meet actresses.
There's got to be more to this, and it's got to have something to do with money.
Alex Rodriguez reportedly still owes Scott Boras some $12 million.
Those are 12 million good reasons to keep Boras around. Unless, of course, Rodriguez -- or his lawyers -- can come up with one good reason why they don't have to pay a nickel of it.
Wallace Matthews covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.
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