Speaking to ESPN.com's Andrew Marchand on Wednesday, Rodriguez said: "I won't play after next year. I've really enjoyed my time. For me, it is time for me to go home and be dad."
Although shortly after that he clarified his remarks to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News: "I’m thinking in terms of my contract which ends in 2017. After that, we’ll see what happens. I’ve got two years and more than 300 games to play.”
The timing of Rodriguez's possible retirement is not entirely a surprise, as his 10-year contract expires after the 2017 season. He will be 42 years old at that time.
Even though A-Rod's career has come to be defined by his postseason shortcomings and performance-enhancing-drug use, he has started to rebuild his image. The first step was a successful 2015 season with a .250/.356/.486 slash line and 33 home runs, his most in a season since 2008, after missing the entire 2014 season due to a suspension.
Rodriguez also had a fine transition to the broadcast booth as part of Fox's television coverage for the postseason after the Yankees lost to the Houston Astros in the American League Wild Card Game.
While few will ever agree on Rodriguez's ultimate place in baseball history, there's no denying he was among MLB's greatest players during his peak. He's hit 687 home runs, the fourth-most in MLB history, won three AL MVP awards and won the 2009 World Series with the Yankees.
It seems unlikely Rodriguez will end his career as MLB's all-time home run leader, assuming he does retire after the 2017 season. ESPN Stats & Info showed what he would have to do to get there if he plays just two more seasons:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
A-Rod would need to average 14 HR/year to pass Ruth, 34.5/year to pass Aaron & 38/year to pass Bonds by end of 2017 https://t.co/xNwB4KfMi82016-3-23 18:39:20
If Rodriguez climbs within, say, 15-20 homers of Bonds' record after the 2017 season, he may find incentive to continue his career.
Cynicism about Rodriguez's announcement emerged on Twitter immediately after the news broke, as Josh Newman of the Asbury Park Press displayed:
Josh Newman @Joshua_Newman
Only Alex Rodriguez would give everyone not one, but TWO years notice on his retirement.2016-3-23 18:36:11
It is certainly unusual for a player to announce his potential retirement two years in advance. Derek Jeter and David Ortiz made their respective announcements one season before they walked away, but Rodriguez has always been a little different.
There will be ample time to debate Rodriguez's place in MLB history. This is a time to let it sink in that one of the sport's great talents plans to leave on his own terms, if that's indeed what A-Rod is doing. He's earned that right, and the farewell tour would be fun to watch.