A-Rod invests in coconut water brand, but endorses another

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Darren Rovell does great work at CNBC covering a range of sports business topics and also runs one of the most interesting Twitter feeds around. He’s been talking for several weeks about a rising product called “coconut water,” which is quickly gaining big-time investors and big-time pitch men from the sports world.

Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez is one of those pitch men. And, well, he’s also an investor. Let the conflict begin.

Vita Coco, a brand of coconut water that did $40 million in business last year, announced Wednesday that it had signed Rodriguez to an endorsement deal and even released a picture (seen on the right) with A-Rod holding their product. But Rovell heard Wednesday that the slugger is actually a long-time investor in another coconut water brand called Zico, and that his ad for Vita Coco has now caused confusion within both companies.

A-Rod attempted to bring clarity to the matter in typical clumsy fashion on Wednesday:

“I don’t discuss my personal investments,” Rodriguez told CNBC, in statement read by his business manager, Guy Oseary. “What I will say is that since Zico changed their formula to concentrate, I felt that the taste and functionality was compromised and that’s when I started to only drink Vita Coco. I love the taste and purity of Vita Coco.”

So A-Rod pumped money into a coconut water brand, then decided he liked another coconut water brand better and is now helping to sell product for a competitor. Zico CEO Mark Rampolla told Rovell this week that if Rodriguez “truly feels that he made a better choice, we’ll be more than happy to return his money.”

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.

Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.

As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.