On Sunday, word came down that the New York Yankees aren’t considering buying out the remaining three years and $61 million in Alex Rodriguez’s contract and instead, will make him earn his paycheck when he is re-instated and eligible to come back in 2015.
Rodriguez is currently serving a 162-game suspension for his alleged involvement in the Biogenesis case and some people felt that the Yankees would find a way to buy out the remainder of A-Rod’s contract, but they aren’t interested in that. While some think the Yankees are getting themselves into a headache and a mess with keeping A-Rod, they actually are making the right move by keeping him on.
Sure, he’s the lightning rod of controversy and he will also be 39 years old when he returns to the Yankees and a year away from baseball; plus he’ll be under even more public and media scrutiny when he’s in front of the cameras again, but it’s nothing A-Rod nor the Yankees have ever handled before. The national spotlight doesn’t bother Rodriguez; he seems to relish it and enjoy having the spotlight on him and even if the media asks him 100 PED questions, he’s been trained to deflect answering directly and focuses on baseball.
Plus, that spotlight and attention A-Rod brings, truth be told, benefits the Yankees above all else. Fans will pay to see how A-Rod performs in 2015; whether they love him or hate him, they’ll want to see how he still handles playing baseball after a full season away and the pure curiosity will draw those fans in; just like it drew in those same fans last summer when he returned from the disabled list and appealed his 211-game suspension and was allowed to play for the Yankees.
Financially, while paying Rodriguez $20 million a season when he’s not the MVP-caliber type player anymore might seem like a burden, it would be an even bigger burden if the Yankees were paying him $20 million a season, but to play for another team for the veteran minimum. What would stop a team like the Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays or anyone else from paying A-Rod $500,000 to play for them and be a part-time player as a designated hitter and have the chance to do damage against the Yankees; all the while the Yankees are paying for it? What a slap in the face that would be to the Yankees and to Hail Steinbrenner if A-Rod got a game-winning hit against the Yankees and they’re cutting him checks? Instead, the Yankees can put A-Rod to good use and have him get game-winning hits for the Yankees.
While some people will question if A-Rod can still play being a year away from baseball, he has been keeping himself in shape and working out on a routinely basis and the year away from baseball has given him a chance to heal all the injuries he’s suffered over the last three years. In Rodriguez’s 44 games back from the DL, he was able to produce more than all of the other third basemen that the Yankees trotted out to play his position; one of which was Kevin Youkilis; who the Yankees forked $12 million over to and got literally nothing out of except a nagging back injury that lead to surgery. A-Rod’s seven home runs and 19 RBI clearly showed that on a limited amount of time to get ready with no spring training, Rodriguez still had it. Now imagine A-Rod with a chance to play and swing a bat when he’s healthy? He’s still able to be productive and last year showed it.
A-Rod likely won’t be a third basemen next year when he returns to the Yankees and nobody should expect him to be a full-time infielder. Instead, he should be expected to be a full-time DH with very minimal time playing third base because that’s where his value is at. If the Yankees really thought he was a headache and not worth keeping, Rodriguez would be without a job and without a team to return to in 2015, but clearly, the Yankees see value in him and keeping him around on the team is ultimately the best decision to make for next year.
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