On December 11, 2000, Seattle Mariner shortstop and superstar hitter Alex Rodriguez signs with the Texas Rangers for $252 million over 10 years. Rodriguez exercises his rights as a free agent to leave the Mariners for a better contract. Despite losing two other superstars, Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey Jr., the Mariners will go on to produce one of the best records in baseball history during the 2001 season.
The contract was a record for professional sports, double the second-to-highest salary (for a basketball player). Tom Hicks purchased the Texas Rangers franchise for $250 million in 1997.
Rodriguez was a four-time All Star and in seven years with the Mariners compiled a batting average of .309, 189 home runs, and 595 runs batted in. After seven years, professional baseball players were permitted to negotiate with teams as free agents.
Before the 2000 season, the Mariners traded away top hitter, Ken Griffey Jr., and in the 1999 season, they traded star pitcher Randy Johnson.