It only seemed like a matter of time before Alex Rodriguez surrendered to the embrace of television. He knew it. We knew it. But apparently, A-Rod just needed some time to think about his next move as his baseball playing career ended.
As first reported by SportsBusiness Journal’s Eric Fisher, Fox Sports has hired Rodriguez full-time for the network’s MLB coverage. Previously, while he was still an active player, A-Rod was part of Fox and FS1’s postseason studio coverage, providing analysis along with Pete Rose and Frank Thomas. However, Sports Illustrated‘s Richard Deitsch was right behind Fisher with some additional news: Rodriguez will also be broadcasting some Saturday games from the booth as part of his multi-year agreement with the network.
A-Rod’s responsibilities with Fox won’t end there, according to Fisher. In addition to studio work and some game broadcasts, Rodriguez will also be a part of FS1’s MLB Whiparound show. MLB Whiparound will be getting some more exposure once baseball season begins, taking the 11 p.m. ET time slot formerly occupied by Fox Sports Live before that show was canceled and the contracts of Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole were not renewed.
Pete Rose: "Do you have a favorite tool?"
A-Rod: "Yeah, you!"
— Funhouse (@SportsFunhouse) October 29, 2016
Rodriguez drew plenty of praise for his studio work during the past two MLB postseasons, providing insight into what players and managers were thinking while not being afraid to criticize poor decisions and performances. Additionally, he showed good chemistry with studio host Kevin Burkhardt and had a good comedic relationship with Rose, with the two often poking fun at one another during postgame shows.
In addition to impressing viewers and critics, Rodriguez drew the notice of producers for the work he put into his broadcast work. He didn’t just show up to the studio and start talking baseball with the guys. A-Rod would email producers about ideas for segments after watching game tapes, such as emulating player swings and key at-bats for in-studio demonstrations.
With that success, moving into TV full-time seemed like the natural next step for Rodriguez. But he wasn’t yet ready to commit, perhaps trying to think over all his options. A-Rod was also named as a special advisor to New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner after his retirement was announced last August. What exactly that job will entail isn’t clear, though part of it will likely include providing some coaching to minor leaguers at the Yankees’ training complex in Tampa. (He’ll also be a special instructor during spring training.) What Rodriguez was definitive on, however, was that he wouldn’t play again, despite speculation to the contrary.
“Bringing Alex back was a priority of ours and we are fortunate to have him as a key contributor to our baseball coverage,” said Fox Sports executive producer John Entz in an official statement. “His potential is off the charts and he’s been an incredibly quick learner in the world of television. He even understands the complexities of sales units.”