It was announced today that Joe Torre turned down a one-year, $5 million contract to return as manager of the New York Yankees.
Or did he?
Is it possible that Torre and the Yankees made an agreement to end their 12-year relationship peacefully—by having Torre reject an offer that was never really on the table?
It certainly could have happened that way.
Think about it: George Steinbrenner made it clear—if the Yankees lost to the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS, Torre was out.
Well, as we all know, the Yankees lost to the Indians in the ALDS.
Media members, fans, and Yankee players all wanted Torre to remain in New York.
There were rallies on New York streets with pro-Torre signs, begging the Yankees to keep their manager.
There were players who reportedly danced around the subject of leaving New York if Torre didn't return.
And what happened?
Steinbrenner said Torre wouldn't return if the Yankees lost to the Indians...yet he switched gears and made a generous one-year offer.
Torre turned down the offer of $5 million in guaranteed cash, plus another possible $3 million in bonus money. Torre would've taken a $2.5 million paycut had he accepted the deal, but the new contract would have still ranked his salary ahead of all other MLB managers.
What if the two sides agreed that the best way to settle things would be to let Joe go out with class? What if the Yankee organization and Torre decided that the manager should turn down a phony offer instead of not receiving an offer at all?
After all, Torre's meeting with the Yankee executives in Tampa, FL lasted over an hour.
It seems plausible to me that both sides agreed on a way to release Torre with the most respect. You know, let Torre go out on his own terms—or at least make it seem as if Torre went out on his own terms.
What better way to get rid of your future Hall-of-Fame manager than to let him turn down an offer?
It's perfect for both sides.
Steinbrenner looks like the good guy because he made Torre an offer, and the Yankees stay away from bad publicity.
After all, they never fired Torre.
Torre leaves under his own power by declining the offer—and fans in New York will have a hard time holding a grudge against him.
After all, he'd have only been getting paid two-thirds of his old salary.
Who could blame Torre for rejecting a large paycut?
Regardless of what actually happened behind closed doors, Joe Torre is still a living legend who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame—and most likely will be.
As for George Steinbrenner—he had 12 years to think about the best way to "fire" Joe Torre. I think he came up with a pretty good solution.