AL East

Alex Rodriguez Planning to Retire after 2017 Season

New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez laughs as he waits to take batting practice before a spring training baseball game against the Atlanta Braves Saturday, March 19, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

The New York Yankees and the sport of baseball are two short seasons away from saying goodbye to one of the most talented, and certainly one of the most controversial players to play the game. Alex Rodriguez has told ESPN’s Andrew Marchand that he will retire from baseball once the remainder of his contract runs out in the 2017 season.

He simply said, “I won’t play after next year. I’ve really enjoyed my time. For me, it is time for me to go home and be dad”.

Next season will be the final of his record setting, 10 year, $275 million contract that the Yankees signed him to. Rodriguez has played for three teams in his storied career, the Seattle Mariners for the first seven years, the Texas Rangers for the next three,and the last 11 wearing the pinstripes.

Over the past 20 years, A-Rod has cemented himself among the legends of the sport. He trails only three other players on the all-time homerun list, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Barry Bonds.

Rodriguez is sitting at 687 career homers, only 27 behind the “Great Bambino”. Unless his production falls by more than half over the next two years, A-Rod should have no issue passing Ruth on the list. Coming off of his most successful season in recent memory, Yankees’ fans should be excited about the chance to see a little more history being written.

Over the course of the 2015 season, Joe Girardi and the rest of the New York organization saw a revitalized Rodriguez. He had his most homeruns in a season since 2008 with 33, and he played in more games than he has since 2007, only missing 11 last year.

It’s impossible to ask Alex to even come close to touching those numbers again this year, but even a slight dip in his production will allow the Yankees to utilize him as a designated hitter. If he’s able to reach double digit homeruns again, the season should be considered a success.

While his performance on the field is obviously extremely important, A-Rod will be a benefit to the organization regardless of how well he plays. There will be countless fans over the next two seasons, who will buy tickets to a game just to see Rodriguez play one more time. If he is playing well and is close to breaking Babe Ruth’s mark, the Steinbrenner family and the rest of the front office will have a marketing gold mine.

Fans either love A-Rod or love to hate him. It’s hard to describe his career in any other fashion. Despite the endless amount of controversy that cast a shadow over many of Rodriguez’s seasons, it’s important for baseball fans to acknowledge the fact that he was one of the best pure talents the sport has ever seen, and these next two seasons are a gift to us all.

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