Yankees Editorial: Does A-Rod Have The Worst Deal In The Game?


Grantland’s Jonah Keri recently released his annual “Baseball’s Worst Contracts” list, and there were a few New York Yankees players who saw their names pop up on the list.  Firstly, Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, and CC Sabathia all just missed the ten player lists and were referred to as “Dishonorable Mentions”.  While all three players battled injuries last season, Beltran’s name popping up was something that shocked me. 

More from Yankees News

Beltran definitely underperformed and came nowhere near the expectations the team had after giving him a three-year, $45 million deal following a 2013 campaign which saw him hit .296/.339/.491 with 24 home runs and 84 RBIs, while reaching the All-Star Game for the eighth time, and leading the St. Louis Cardinals to the World Series with yet another strong and clutch postseason.

While Beltran turned 37 in April of 2014, nobody saw this as a bad deal at the time.  Beltran is a likable guy who has always wanted to be a Yankee, and the fit seemed to be a great one.  A bone spur in his right elbow limited Beltran to 109 games, with 76 coming as the DH, something the Yankees did not expect when they signed him.  Beltran significantly underperformed in those games, and looking back, he probably should have had surgery earlier.  Beltran is moving towards being healthy, and I do not think he will perform anywhere near as bad as last year.  He is currently my pick for the biggest rebound on this years roster.

Teixeira and Sabathia both have battled injuries in recent seasons, and have declined enormously since signing before the 2009 season.  Two of the most dominant players in baseball at the time, the Yankees now are simply hopeful that they can get any production out of these two, something which is a far cry from expectations of them to lead the team.

Finally, we get to baseball’s villain, Alex Rodriguez.  Once again, Rodriguez placed first on the list of worst contracts, but is that a title he deserves this year?  There is no arguing that Rodriguez will not put up numbers worthy of the three years and $61 million left on his deal.  I do believe though that once again he has gotten a raw deal.  There are several guys on this list that are making big money, as Rodriguez is, but for several years longer.  While A-Rod is set to turn 40 this season, in 2013 he was quite productive in limited time.

The second rule of this game is that “Team finances matter”.  Keri seems to disregard this as it will be a lot easier for the Yankees to swallow that $61 million for Rodriguez than it will be for a rebuilding team like the Atlanta Braves to swallow $46.4 million for B.J. Upton, who has hit an atrocious .198/.279/.314 since signing with the Braves prior to the 2013 season.  He also has struck out 324 times compared to only 101 walks, while his power and speed have faded.  If not for the money owed to Upton, he would surely be a bench player at this point.

Rodriguez has his share of issues, both on the field and off the field, and they are well known issues, but I do not think that he has the worst contract anymore.  At the end of these next three seasons, I think A-Rod will have provided more value than Upton, who I would not be surprised to see cut.  I also feel that Rodriguez will provide more value than the person ranked second on this list, Matt Harrison.  Harrison is owed $41 million over the next three seasons, and has only pitched 28 innings the past two years while pitching to an ERA of 5.79.  He does not seem to be a factor in the Texas Rangers current rotation either, as they have eight starters listed on their official team depth chart, and Harrison is not one of them.  While the Yankees have publicly stated that Rodriguez will have to win a job, he is still listed as the first option at DH according to the Yankees official team depth chart.

I understand that Rodriguez is set to make more than these two players, but the Yankees can also swallow that loss easier.  If A-Rod can perform how he did in 2013, he will be a far more productive than either Upton or Harrison.  While players such as Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder, and Josh Hamilton should outperform A-Rod, they also are either owed more money, whether annually in Howard’s case or long term in the rest of their cases, or they come off the books at a later time.  If not for the extra baggage that Rodriguez brings, I do not think he would be atop this list, and I think that is unfair.  It will be interesting to see if Keri is correct over the next several seasons, but I do not think his predictions are fact driven or accurate.

Next: Yankees Among Top Suitors For Yoan Moncada

More from Yanks Go Yard