Rodriguez, who hit .332 with 35 homers and 113 runs batted in, finished with seven first-place votes and 252 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Assn. of America.
"That's the dream of every player, to get this award," Rodriguez said.
Martinez, who won the AL Cy Young Award earlier this week after going 23-4 with a 2.07 earned-run average and 313 strikeouts, had eight first-place votes and 239 points.
"It's fine. It's fine. I'm not going to cry about it. It would have been a great honor," Martinez said. "I got the Cy Young. That's good enough."
It was the closest MVP vote since 1996, when Seattle's Alex Rodriguez lost, 290-287, to Texas' Juan Gonzalez.
Rodriguez's win over Martinez was the most controversial among the off-season awards, renewing debate on whether pitchers should be eligible for the MVP.
"I don't think we should be discriminated. We're all players," Martinez said. "Because the guy goes out there every day, he's the only player? What would they do without pitching?"
Voters list their top 10, and Rodriguez won largely because he was listed on the ballots of all 28 voters while Martinez was omitted by George King of the New York Post and La Velle Neal of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
"I feel a pitcher should just not be an MVP," Neal said. "To win that award, it should be someone who's out there every day battling for his team. It's nothing personal against Pedro."
Deion Sanders was added to the Cincinnati Reds' 40-man roster, a procedural move made in case he ever decides to play baseball again.
Sanders has remained under minor league contract with the Reds since he returned to playing cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys full-time in 1997.
If the Reds hadn't purchased Sanders' minor league contract and added him to the 40-man roster, he could have been taken by another team in the Rule 5 draft.
Hall of Famer Frank Robinson is considering whether to join the Chicago Cubs as a bench coach under new Manager Don Baylor. Baylor said that "it's not a done deal yet," adding that if Robinson takes the job "it should happen in the next 24 or 48 hours." . . . Todd Pratt, whose Game 4, 10th-inning home run won the Mets' first-round playoff series against Arizona, agreed to a $1.1-million, two-year contract with New York. . . . The Oakland Athletics agreed to terms on a two-year contract with left-handed relief pitcher Mike Magnante, who went 5-2 with a 3.38 ERA for the Angels last season.
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AL MVP Voting
Voting for the 1999 American League most-valuable-player award, with first-, second- and third-place votes and total points on a 14-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis:
Player 1st 2nd 3rd Tot Ivan Rodriguez, Texas 7 6 7 252 Pedro Martinez, Boston 8 6 4 239 Roberto Alomar, Cleveland 4 7 6 226 Manny Ramirez, Cleveland 4 4 5 226 Rafael Palmeiro, Texas 4 1 2 193 Derek Jeter, New York 1 2 2 177 Nomar Garciaparra, Boston 0 2 2 137 Jason Giambi, Oakland 0 0 0 49 Shawn Green, Toronto 0 0 0 44 Ken Griffey Jr., Seattle 0 0 0 42 Bernie Williams, New York 0 0 0 21 Carlos Delgado, Toronto 0 0 0 16 Juan Gonzalez, Texas 0 0 0 10 Mariano Rivera, New York 0 0 0 9 Alex Rodriguez, Seattle 0 0 0 4 Omar Vizquel, Cleveland 0 0 0 3 Matt Stairs, Oakland 0 0 0 2 John Jaha, Oakland 0 0 0 1 B.J. Surhoff, Baltimore 0 0 0 1