Alex Rodriguez Earned Over $440 Million Playing Baseball but Would Have Pursued Another Career if He Went to College

Alex Rodriguez may have cheated the game of baseball, but he certainly made the right decision choosing a career on the diamond.

Although his career and reputation is tainted by admitted steroid use, the three-time American League MVP Award winner was among the best hitters of his time and earned plenty of money in the process. If not for a last-minute push by the Seattle Mariners, Rodriguez may have made a name for himself in another sport — and he may not have made as much money had he gone down that path.

Alex Rodriguez wanted to play quarterback at Miami

New York Yankees legend Alex Rodriguez in 2015.
Alex Rodriguez considered playing football at the University of Miami. | Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

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The Seattle Mariners used the top pick in the 1993 MLB draft on Alex Rodriguez, an elite shortstop prospect from Florida.

Depending on how the draft and subsequent contract negotiations played out, Rodriguez had a backup plan in mind. In a 2018 interview with Cigar Aficionado, he explained that he’d agreed on a two-sport scholarship with the University of Miami. In addition to playing shortstop, he intended to play quarterback on the football team.

“Well, I certainly wanted to play football, and the plan was that if I chose to go the NCAA route, I would have played football and baseball. Once I decided to sign as the No. 1 pick in 1993, well then I just wanted to put all my energy and focus into baseball.”

Alex Rodriguez

As the deadline neared for Rodriguez to sign his first professional contract, he believed he would instead attend college for three years and re-enter the draft in 1996. During his final negotiations with the Mariners, he requested his mother receive three first-class tickets to visit him during the summer.

“They said done deal, and I became a Mariner,” Rodriguez recalled.

Rodriguez opted for a lucrative and legendary baseball career

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Despite his off-field transgressions, Rodriguez should be glad that he signed with the Mariners.

The power-hitting infielder totaled over 3,000 hits and mashed 696 home runs in parts of 23 seasons at the big-league level. He won a World Series ring with the New York Yankees in 2009 and joined the 600-home run club a year later.

According to Baseball-Reference, he also earned over $441 million in the majors. Not bad for someone who served a 162-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

Had Rodriguez stuck with football and reached the NFL, he’d likely have made far less money. Tom Brady, for example, earned $263 million in total salary through the end of the 2020 season, according to Spotrac.

Rodriguez is the highest-paid player in MLB history

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Rodriguez used his age and talent to take advantage of baseball’s lack of a salary cap. If teams were willing to spend the big bucks to acquire his service, they could pay as much as they could.

The Texas Rangers signed Rodriguez to a 10-year contract worth $252 million in December 2000. He opted out of that contract after the 2007 season, his fourth with the Yankees.

In the fall of 2007, the Yankees signed the reigning AL MVP winner to a 10-year contract worth $275 million. Although he retired in August 2016, he received his full pay — $21 million — in 2017, his final year under contract.

Since retiring, Rodriguez has invested his money in various projects ranging from hotels to Snapchat. He recently agreed to buy the Minnesota Timberwolves, an NBA franchise, after he and Jennifer Lopez lost on their attempts at buying the New York Mets last year.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.