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Alex Rodriguez returning to ESPN’s ‘Sunday Night Baseball’

Alex Rodriguez will return to the booth in 2021 in his analyst role on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball,” much to the presumed chagrin of some MLB fans.

Sources relayed to New York Post sports media insider Andrew Marchand this week that Rodriguez and ESPN have come to terms on a one-year extension. It will be A-Rod’s fourth season in the “SNB” booth.

Lead announcer Matt Vasgersian has signed a one-year extension as well, and Buster Olney will return as dugout reporter for the weekly national broadcast.

The extensions were later confirmed in a press release from ESPN (via NJ.com):

“ESPN today announced its broadcast team for the 2021 season of Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell: the exclusive, national Major League Baseball game of the week,” the release reads in part. “The team of World Series Champion and analyst Alex Rodriguez, play-by-play voice Matt Vasgersian, and reporter Buster Olney will return for their second season as a trio and their fourth season together overall.

“Alex Rodriguez, World Series Champion and one of the most accomplished Major League Baseball players in history, has re-signed with ESPN and will enter his fourth season as Sunday Night Baseball analyst. Rodriguez, a 14-time MLB All-Star and three-time American League MVP, made his regular season ESPN broadcast debut on Opening Night in 2018.”

The short-term extensions for both Rodriguez and Vasgersian come as ESPN continues negotiations with Major League Baseball on extending a long-term relationship, highlighted by “Sunday Night Baseball,” which has spanned 29 seasons.

The belief is that MLB will re-up with ESPN and the network will continue to broadcast “SNB,” the Home Run Derby during All-Star Game events as well potentially being a broadcast home for expanded playoffs if such a development comes to fruition. The anticipated deal is expected to start in 2022 once the current agreement expires.

The return of A-Rod and Vasgersian follows a shakeup ahead of the 2020 MLB season. ESPN removed fellow analyst Jessica Mendoza from the booth amid controversy surrounding a conflict of interest due to her position at the time in the New York Mets front office as well as backlash over her criticism of former Houston Astros pitcher Mike Fiers related to his admission to stealing signs during the team’s World Series run in 2017. 

Mendoza, however, signed an extension with ESPN and continues to cover the league in other capacities for the network.

As noted, some MLB fans may not find the news that A-Rod will return as a positive. The outspoken and polarizing personality has at times been mocked over his occasionally questionable contributions to telecasts.