In all likelihood the New York Yankees will not be able to trade Alex Rodriguez this offseason. Despite the fact that the writing on the wall shows he has lost favor in the Bronx considering his multiple benchings during the postseason, his contract poses big problems. Rodriguez claims he wants to come back to New York in 2013 and the Yankees through various mouthpieces are signaling that they do not intend to instigate any trade talks.
That said, Brian Cashman was very vocal and laid the groundwork for the possibility of a deal for any team who wanted to listen as he gave an interview on ESPN New York Radio yesterday. Cashman was able to let teams know exactly where he valued Rodriguez in comparison to the amount of money left on the contract.
It’s not like I’m going to hang phones up on anybody who wants to make any overtures about anything. You’re talking about realistic stuff and unrealistic stuff. I don’t think it’s realistic at all for us to be moving forward with anything but Alex Rodriguez at third base. He’s still an above-average third baseman. That means despite the contract that we had committed to him, that he’s an asset at this stage still. I don’t see us doing anything there. I don’t anticipate it. If someone wants to make phone calls, we’re more than willing to do all that stuff with any of our players, and that’s fine. You can run into something that way.
He went on and made sure to let Rodriguez know that he’s no longer viewed as a superstar player.
Do I expect him to return to the MVP-caliber-type Alex Rodriguez? No,” Cashman said. “Obviously you decline with age, and he’s getting up there in his age. … So no, that would be very unrealistic to think as well. But despite the age where he’s at, he’s still an above-average player at that position.
In a nutshell Cashman’s words did a few things. One, it let teams know that while Rodriguez may not be worth the remainder of the $114 million left on his contract over the next five seasons, the Yankees do not intend on paying his entire salary for a team who is interested in him either. He’s willing to listen, but don’t be ridiculous in the offers. Basically, Cashman believes Rodriguez still has value to the Yankees.
Cashman’s words also lets fans know that, yes he knows the situation is not monetarily sound, but also expresses that they pretty much knew this would come at some point, though maybe not at 37 years old. He’s lowering the bar of an expected move on the part of fans that saw his benching in Game 3 & 4 as the final straws from the Yankees perspective.
Lastly, he challenges Rodriguez. Put up numbers closer to what the salary we are paying you or you could very well be out the door. Except of course, there is the issue of Rodriguez’s ten and five veto rights as well as the language of a no-trade clause in his contract. This is where Cashman uses the words “realistic” versus “unrealistic” wisely. Rodriguez in the end has the upper hand should he decide he wants to stay.
Outwardly that seems to be A-Rod’s stance as he is vowing to come back with a vengeance.
I will be back, and I have a lot to prove, and I will come back on a mission,” Rodriguez said Thursday. “I’ve never thought about going to another team. My focus is to stay here. Let’s make that very, very clear.
So, neither side is claiming to desire the trade. Cashman says he believes Rodriguez is still an above-average third baseman. Rodriguez says he doesn’t want to leave. What if Cashman is offered a deal that he feels makes sense, but it cannot be completed because A-Rod won’t comply by using his no-trade clause? Would the Yankees try to force his hand by not playing him against righties, or at least power righties much like this postseason?
Rodriguez’s image is important to him. Would he sit back and miss out on more than half the number of games he could play in because he starts the season in a big slump? Wouldn’t he want to play out his remaining five years in a city where he would not be under as much scrutiny? He’s won a World Series, and he performed well in that postseason, which is something that no one can take away from him. So why be treated like a platoon player if he feels so adamant that he’s still a superior talent?
The same stage of New York that he wanted to use to flaunt his superstar status could be the unraveling of his legacy (of course he has other legacy issues we don’t need to rehash) if he is relegated to platoon status. No matter how many teams knock on the door, Rodriguez will have the final say. It’s just a matter of how much bashing he can take from fans and Yankees management before he begs to get out of the Bronx.