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Rumors put A-Rod on the trading block: Would it be a good move for the Yankees?
While sitting and watching the Yankees and Tigers play Tuesday night, I earned no money at all. Alex Rodriguez was watching as well, although he made around $170,000 (and possibly picked up phone numbers of some hotties).
Well, the point isn’t the money (or the hotties), it’s that A-Rod was sitting and watching rather than starting. The Yankees’ lineup for Game 4 has him sitting for the second night in a row. Given that he’s struck out in almost half his plate appearances this post-season (12 out of 25), that’s probably a good idea.
Reduced to warning track power
But unlike Robinson Cano, Rodriguez hadn’t been hot coming into October. He’d been scuffling already and it wasn’t just a failure to make contact. The contact he made wasn’t particularly strong. Over the past few weeks of the season I saw several times where A-Rod got a mistake pitch over the heart of the plate and seemed to make solid contact – the kind that in the past has led to over 600 home runs – only to see a fielder catch the ball on the warning track.
A power hitter with warning track power isn’t really a power hitter anymore. It remains to be seen if A-Rod will adjust accordingly and become a good hitter with occasional power or a struggling power hitter with occasional hits.
A-Rod on the trading block?
On Wednesday Harold Reynolds predicted that the Yankees will trade A-Rod. Other commentators and writers have also speculated about a possible trade. So let’s take a look at how a trade involving Rodriguez might work.
First, let’s examine if this is even a good idea for the Yankees. If A-Rod is traded, they would have to find a replacement at third base. The Yankees have already been doing that for the past two years. A-Rod played 99 games in 2011 and 122 in 2012. The Yanks have used a variety of players at third, this year primarily Jayson Nix and Eric Chavez.
Is Jeter a possible replacement?
While neither of them are a permanent replacement at third, the Yankees have another player who might be – Derek Jeter. Many people already had a concern about his ability to continue playing shortstop since he’ll turn 39 next season. Now he’s coming off a serious ankle injury.
There are issues with this scenario, of course. Jeter has never played any other defensive position than shortstop. His biggest weakness appears to be going to his left (usually a player’s strength) and third base requires mostly going to the left. Still, it’s an option they could explore, especially if they give Jeter 50 or more games at DH, meaning he’d be at third for 100 or fewer games.
Offensively, they wouldn’t lose that much. If Eduardo Nunez takes over at shortstop and hits 16-18 homers (A-Rod’s contributions each of the last two seasons), it’s a wash.
Financially, it could also be a benefit to the Yankees. They still owe A-Rod about $115 million, plus incentives for reaching certain milestones. It’s doubtful any team would take on that kind of contract. Reynolds suggested the Yankees would have to eat about $90 million of the contract, which is a hefty chunk. But it would still save them $25 million, which would be enough for two more years of Jeter.
A number of teams would consider A-Rod
So, are there teams out there who would be willing to take a chance on an aging superstar for $25 million? I think a few teams would. Here are the teams I think are the most likely candidates.
Miami Marlins – A-Rod is from Miami, the Marlins have shown a willingness to spend money to bring big names to the area and they need a third baseman. After they traded Hanley Ramirez, Greg Dobbs played the most games at the hot corner, 36.
Oakland A’s – The A’s tried Brandon Inge there this season, then Josh Donaldson. In the past, they’ve been willing to take a chance on Hideki Matsui and Manny Ramirez. Rodriguez might be able to give some pointers to budding superstar Yoenis Cespedes as well.
Cleveland Indians – The Indians played Jack Hannahan at third the most, 96 games, but he wasn’t exactly putting up superstar numbers. Terry Francona is taking over the Indians and may be interested in having a bona fide star for a few years as he rebuilds.
Philadelphia Phillies – The Phillies thought about moving Chase Utley to third but finally gave it up. Placido Polanco, who has played most of their games at third the past couple of years, obviously isn’t the answer they want. They are already aging, though, so may want a younger option.
Los Angeles Angels – They tried Mark Trumbo at third before settling on Alberto Callaspo. They’re not afraid to spend money and A-Rod would be another big name in the lineup to try to draw fans away from the Dodgers.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Like the Angels, they haven’t been afraid to spend money. Toward the end of the season they seemed to prefer Hanley Ramirez at shortstop. A-Rod could be an option there until they develop someone else.
Colorado Rockies – Coors Field can add about 10-15 feet to a hitter’s drives; A-Rod has been hitting balls to the warning track. His power numbers could return there. The Rockies don’t exactly have a regular at third these days. It could work.
Chicago Cubs – This would be a long shot, but they’ve been going with Luis Valbuena at third. A-Rod wouldn’t be a step down. Theo Epstein tried to trade for Rodriguez right before Texas traded him to New York. He might like to have another shot at him.
Tampa Bay Rays – Another long shot. They have Evan Longoria at third but could use A-Rod at DH and as insurance should Longoria succumb to injury again. They might even try him at first base, a sore spot for them for several seasons.
Odds even on a trade happening
Who would the Yankees get in return? I’m not sure it matters a lot to them, other than they don’t want to get cheated. I can see them taking several high-level minor league pitchers in exchange, or perhaps a legitimate Major League pitcher and a couple of low-level prospects.
Will a trade involving A-Rod happen this winter? It wouldn’t surprise me. Right now, I’d say it’s about 50-50 that he won’t be in pinstripes when the 2013 season opens.