Palmeiro unsure about future with the Rangers
By STEPHEN HAWKINS, AP Sports Writer
September 21, 2003
AP - Sep 15, 10:22 pm EDT
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Rafael Palmeiro wants to finish his career with the Texas Rangers. Owner Tom Hicks says that's also what he wants.
Making it happen isn't that easy.
Palmeiro played Sunday night not knowing if it would be his last home game with the Rangers. He is eligible for free agency after this season.
``When you go into an offseason not knowing what's going to happen, it's a little uncomfortable,'' Palmeiro said. ``But I have to deal with it.''
When he batted in the first inning against the Angels, Palmeiro got an extended standing ovation from the fans. He popped out on the first pitch.
While both sides want to stay together, the Rangers have made it clear that if Palmeiro returns he will have to take pay cut. Palmeiro made $9 million this season while becoming the 19th player to hit 500 career homers.
Palmeiro, who turns 39 on Wednesday, has said he is willing to play for less money. What is uncertain is just how much of a pay cut the rebuilding Rangers, who are in last place for the fourth straight season, will seek.
``Raffy has always made it clear he wants to finish his career here. We've always made it clear we want him to,'' Hicks said Sunday. ``When we had our very serious conversation before the trading deadline, there was a much bigger gap than I thought there would be, but we'll see.''
Hicks won't discuss specific numbers.
The Rangers tried in July to trade Palmeiro to the Chicago Cubs, where he started his career in 1986. The slugger blocked the deal with his no-trade clause.
By not going to the Cubs for the end of the season, Palmeiro may have hurt his chances of staying in Texas.
Texas will have exclusive negotiating rights with Palmeiro until 15 days after the completion of the World Series, and if a deal isn't in place by Dec. 7, the Rangers would have to offer salary arbitration or lose their rights. Had he gone to the Cubs, there would have been no such deadline for Texas.
``It's up to Raffy. Raffy has to get a read on the market,'' Hicks said. ``Raffy is not going to come play for us for a huge amount less than what he can be offered somewhere else. He's got to go found out what his other options are.''
That is how the Rangers lost left-handed starter Kenny Rogers and 10-time All-Star catcher Ivan Rodriguez last year. The team refused salary arbitration for both players, and only offered a last-minute deal to Rogers.
Rogers, who like Palmeiro had said he wanted to stay in Texas, turned down a $10 million, two-year offer. He ended up signing a $2 million, one-year deal with Minnesota during spring training.
Palmeiro, who has spent 10 seasons in two stints with Texas, went into Sunday night's game with 36 homers and 104 RBIs. He and Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx are the only players with nine straight seasons with at least 35 homers and 100 RBIs.
He hit his 500th career homer May 11 against Cleveland. He now has 526, 13th on the career list.
Updated on Sunday, Sep 21, 2003 8:27 pm
Personally, I doubt it, but if Raffy really wants to play here he will take the pay cut to return. Should be interesting to watch this situation in the offseason.