Alex Rodriguez has been in the major leagues for over two decades, will turn 41 in July and has compiled an incredibly complicated résumé that includes the fourth most career home runs in baseball, three Most Valuable Player Awards and a yearlong drug suspension.
Now, Rodriguez says, the ending is in sight. He told ESPN on Wednesday that he would retire at the end of the 2017 season, which also happens to be when his 10-year, $275 million deal with the Yankees comes to an end.
“I won’t play after next year,’’ he told ESPN. “I’ve really enjoyed my time. For me, it is time to go home and be Dad.’’
Rodriguez has 687 home runs — including the 33 he hit last season in a surprisingly strong comeback from his suspension — and the only three sluggers ahead of him are Babe Ruth (714 homers), Hank Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds (762).
If he can stay reasonably healthy and productive over the next two seasons as he continues in his early 40s, Rodriguez should pass Ruth. But in choosing not to play beyond 2017, he may be surrendering any realistic chance of catching Aaron and Bonds.
Rodriguez first broke into the major leagues as a teenager with the Seattle Mariners. He left Seattle to join the Texas Rangers as a free agent in 2001 and three years later came to the Yankees.
In the Bronx, he has been an unending source of controversy, repeatedly linked to the use of performance-enhancing drugs and finally kicked out of baseball for all of 2014 for his role in the Biogenesis scandal, which ensnared more than a dozen players.
He was also often a chronic underachiever in the postseason for the Yankees — with the emphatic exception of 2009, when he helped propel them to the most recent of their 27 world championships. It is also the only title that Rodriguez has won.