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Rodriguez opts out of Yankees contract

Rockies righthander Aaron Cook was solid in his first start of the postseason, giving up three runs in six innings-plus. Rockies righthander Aaron Cook was solid in his first start of the postseason, giving up three runs in six innings-plus. (JIM DAVIS/GLOBE STAFF)

DENVER - Either Scott Boras knows he has another team (the Red Sox?) who will pay Alex Rodriguez a small fortune, or he's taking a major gamble walking away from the Yankees.

According to Associated Press and SI.com reports, Rodriguez informed the Yankees he is opting out of the remaining three years of a mega 10-year, $252 million deal he originally signed with the Rangers. Rodriguez did not show up to the World Series to accept the Hank Aaron Award as the American League's top offensive performer. Now we know why.

Rodriguez informed the Yankees of his decision yesterday, according to reports, but president Randy Levine said he had no knowledge of the situation.

"Alex made the decision today," Boras told SI.com. "I thought we should notify the club."

In somewhat of a surprise, Rodriguez opted out before knowing what the Yankees' contract extension offer would be. The Yankees have said they will not pursue Rodriguez if he opted out. It remains to be seen if the Yankees stick to that plan or whether Rodriguez will have to go back to the Yankees if other teams decide not to pay the ransom.

Under the terms of his contract, Rodriguez could have taken up to 10 days after the World Series to opt out. According to Boras, Rodriguez opted out because of the unsettled nature of the Yankees' offseason - no manager, and no word on the status of Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and Jorge Posada.

Boras played a similar game following the '06 season with the J.D. Drew deal, opting out of a five-year, $55 million deal from the Dodgers because he had the Red Sox waiting to offer five years at $70 million.

Boras would be willing to keep talking with the Yankees, but if the Yankees stick to their guns, it will be very interesting to see which teams disrupt their payroll structure for the best player in the game. "The lines of communication for us are open," the agent said.

The Yankees lose $21.3 million in remaining subsidy payments from the Rangers as part of the 2004 trade. "We're going to wait until we hear officially, but obviously it would be welcome news on our end," said Texas GM Jon Daniels in an email to the AP.

The Red Sox would rather not make a lot of changes. But they held off on signing Mike Lowell and everyone has wondered why. In recent days, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein has said he'd like to re-sign Lowell, but now that Rodriguez is a free agent?

Last night was not the time for Sox officials to start talking about A-Rod, but in the days and weeks to come, the topic will come up.

According to a New York Times report, Hank Steinbrenner said the Yankees will make one decision today - picking Joe Torre's successor, with the announcement likely tomorrow.

"The decision will be finalized tomorrow, I would say so," Steinbrenner told the AP.

O'Dowd sticks to plan

Colorado general manager Dan O'Dowd isn't going to change too much about the way he conducts business, regardless of the team's loss in the World Series. O'Dowd said he will continue to develop talent through his farm system, keep the core of the team intact, all while trying to be a perennial postseason contender.

To be all that, O'Dowd knows the Rockies need to upgrade their pitching. This World Series has pointed out that the major difference between the Rockies and the Red Sox is the $90 million that separates their payrolls. So much of that shows up in the pitching staffs. While Boston can afford to load up with Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Curt Schilling, and Tim Wakefield, which takes up about $35 million per year of the payroll, Colorado cannot.

"They're a good team," O'Dowd said about the Red Sox. "They've been the best team from start to finish and we knew how good they were coming in and what they've been able to do has certainly solidified that here, so far.

"We're not going to have a $150 million payroll, so we have to do things the way we do them to the best of our abilities and make sure we make the right decisions that are best for our club. I think we've been able to do that this season and we do take it year to year."

O'Dowd has been told how much his payroll can increase next season. It's just over $54 million now. His free agents include catcher Yorvit Torrealba, second baseman Kaz Matsui, and lefthanded reliever Brian Fuentes.

Hammering away

Hank Aaron was asked about the number of strikeouts players amass now: "To me, that was the most embarrassing thing in baseball to have a pitcher strike me out," Aaron said. "I see a lot of players today take that very lightly." Aaron, whose high in strikeouts was 97 in 1967, presented the Hank Aaron Award to National League winner Prince Fielder of the Brewers. The award recognizes the "most outstanding offensive performers in each league." Fielder received 16 percent of the fans' votes after hitting 50 homers with a .618 slugging percentage, 119 RBIs, and 87 extra-base hits . . . Representatives from the Hall of Fame are here to collect memorabilia. "We try to collect the artifacts that will tell the story of the World Series," said vice president Jeff Idelson. "The players are very cooperative in helping us collect these artifacts."

Future star?

Star Japanese righthander Hiroki Kuroda is attending the World Series. Kuroda, 32, is going to become a free agent and is contemplating a move to America. Boston could be a destination, especially with two Japanese pitchers already in town. Kuroda contemplated a deal with the Cubs last year but elected to stay in Japan because of personal reasons. Those situations have changed and Kuroda is now able to play in the majors. No news on who might be representing him, but he went for a medical exam in California, where Dr. Lewis Yocum gave him a clean bill of health . . . Torii Hunter will file for free agency tomorrow, a source close to the Twins center fielder said . . . Indians vice president of player development Chris Antonetti has interviewed for the St. Louis GM job. Antonetti has turned down opportunities to take GM jobs in the past. Because the Indians have been successful on the field while keeping their payroll down, teams are targeting their front-office employees in order to build a similar business model. That's one of the reasons the Pirates hired Neal Huntington as their GM . . . There's still a possibility the Cardinals could interview Boston assistant GM Jed Hoyer.

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