Mon, Nov 19, 2007 - Page 18 News List

Buffet helps Rodriguez ink new Yankees deal

AFP , NEW YORK

Billionaire businessman Warren Buffett helped steer Alex Rodriguez into reaching agreement on terms of a record-setting new contract with the New York Yankees, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.

Citing unnamed sources, the newspaper's Web site reported that "A-Rod" called Buffett and two executives from Goldman Sachs Group last week for advice after opting out of his Major League Baseball contract to become a free agent.

The third baseman has reportedly agreed with the Yankees upon a 10-year deal worth up to US$275 million, including money for passing recently indicted Barry Bonds to become the all-time US home run king.

Scott Boras, Rodriguez's agent, was effectively booted out of the deal after Rodriguez went to Golden Sachs executives to reopen a dialogue with the club, which vowed not to negotiate with Rodriguez once he opted out of his old deal.

With Rodriguez seeking US$350 million but finding no takers, he went back to the Yankees and still wound up being the highest-paid player in the history of his sport.

Rodriguez, 32, called Buffett, 77, last week and spoke to Goldman executives John Mallory and Gerry Cardinales in what might have been a breach of protocol, since the Goldman firm manages finances for Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and other Yankee investors.

Rodriguez met Buffett, a baseball fan, several years ago when he flew to Buffett's Omaha, Nebraska, headquarters for a meeting. Buffett has an autographed "A-Rod" Yankees jersey.

It was Buffett who advised Rodriguez to go back to the Yankees without Boras.

"A-Rod really loves being a Yankee," Buffett said.

Rodriguez went to Mallory, who contacted Cardinale, who worked closely with Yankees executives on television deals, the Journal reported. Cardinale called Yankees president Randy Levine and the door to a new deal was opened.

The Goldman executives took themselves out of the actual talks since only an agent or a player can represent himself in negotiations under baseball union rules.

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