Alexander Emmanuel "Alex" Rodriguez (born July 27, 1975), nicknamed "A-Rod", is an American professional baseball third baseman and shortstop for the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played for the Seattle Mariners and the Texas Rangers. Rodriguez was one of the sport's most highly touted prospects and is considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time. During his 20-year career, Rodriguez has amassed a .299 batting average, 658 home runs, 1,980 runs batted in (RBIs), and 2,951 hits. He is a 14-time All-Star and has won three American League (AL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) Awards, ten Silver Slugger Awards, and two Gold Glove Awards. However, he has led a highly controversial career due to his lucrative contracts and his use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
Rodriguez was drafted by the Mariners out of high school as the first overall selection in the 1993 MLB Draft, and he debuted in the major leagues the following year at the age of 18. In 1996, he became the Mariners' starting shortstop and finished second in voting for the AL MVP Award. Rodriguez's combination of power, speed, and defense made him a cornerstone of the franchise, but he left the team via free agency after the 2000 season to join the Texas Rangers; the 10-year, $252 million contract he signed was the richest in baseball history. He played at a high level in his three years with Texas, highlighted by his first AL MVP Award win in 2003, but the team failed to make the playoffs during his tenure. Prior to the 2004 season, Rodriguez was traded to the Yankees, for whom he converted to a third baseman due to incumbent shortstop Derek Jeter. In his first four seasons with New York, he was twice more named AL MVP. After opting out of his contract following the 2007 season, Rodriguez signed a new 10-year, $275 million deal with the Yankees, extending his record for the sport's most lucrative contract. He became the youngest player ever to hit 500 career home runs and 600 home runs, reaching the milestones in 2007 and 2010, respectively. He won his first championship in 2009, and the following year, he became the career leader in home runs by a player of Hispanic descent. In recent years, Rodriguez has been hampered by hip and knee injuries.
In February 2009, after previously denying use of performance-enhancing drugs, including during a 2007 interview with Katie Couric on 60 Minutes, Rodriguez admitted to using steroids, saying he used them from 2001 to 2003 when playing for Rangers due to "an enormous amount of pressure" to perform. While recovering from a hip injury in 2013, Rodriguez made headlines by feuding with team management over his rehabilitation and for having allegedly obtained performance-enhancing drugs as part of the Biogenesis baseball scandal. In August 2013, MLB suspended him 211 games for his involvement in the scandal, but he was allowed to play while appealing the punishment. Had the original suspension been upheld, it would have been the longest non-lifetime suspension in baseball history. After an arbitration hearing, the suspension was reduced to 162 games, keeping him off the field for the entire 2014 season.
By Dean Hanley