Yankees, A-Rod, union discussing charitable solution to bonus issue

Alex Rodriguez's disputed bonus money might end up going to a good cause.

Adam Hunger

Some charity is likely to benefit from Alex Rodriguez’s negotiations with the Yankees over his disputed milestone bonus.

Actually, multiple charities.

Representatives for Rodriguez, the players’ union and Yankees have been talking for weeks about a deal to redirect the $6 million bonus that Rodriguez was to receive for hitting his 660th home run, according to a marketing agreement between him and the club.

While no one has categorized a deal as close, one source involved in the talks said the parties recently had made "quiet progress" toward an agreement and another expressed optimism that the matter would be amicably resolved.

Some involved in the talks expressed concern that a potential deal still might collapse, given the sensitivity and stop-and-start nature of the discussions. At the same time, all parties appear motivated to avoid a costly and contentious arbitration hearing.

The deal would cover only the first of the five $6 million bonuses in the marketing agreement, sources said. The entire sum would be donated to charity and divided among causes selected by Rodriguez and Yankees principal owner Hal Steinbrenner.

Under the marketing agreement, Rodriguez was to receive separate $6 million bonuses for tying Willie Mays (660), Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds (762) on the all-time home run list. He also was to receive a bonus for surpassing Bonds.

HIGH FASHION WITH A PURPOSE

The Yankees, however, informed Rodriguez on Feb. 10 that they did not intend to pay him the money, contending that he became unmarketable after his season-long suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, according to the New York Times.

Rodriguez, who will turn 40 on July 27, hit home run No. 660 on May 1, then allowed a 45-day window to pass without filing a grievance. Both sides viewed the deadline as "soft," knowing a grievance would not be heard until after the end of the season.

In the meantime, negotiations continued.

Rodriguez, by relinquishing his claim to $6 million, would continue a public-relations makeover that included a recent appearance with commissioner Rob Manfred for the launch of a youth-baseball initiative.

The Yankees, meanwhile, would avoid further conflict with a player who is enjoying a strong resurgence, batting .280 with 15 home runs and an .887 OPS. Rodriguez last month smacked a home run for his 3,000th hit, an achievement that is not covered in his marketing agreement.

He is 45 home runs shy of 714, the next milestone in his deal with the club.