As he’s busy being benched in the ALCS and reportedly handing out his phone number to hot female patrons in-game, Alex Rodriguez‘s name is being floated all over baseball. Will he or won’t he stay in the Bronx beyond this postseason.
One of the greatest sluggers in MLB history – even with the help of some performance enhancers – is wearing out his welcome in New York City and could be on his way out after this season. With a monster contract that owes him $114 million until 2017, it won’t be easy for Brian Cashman and company to unload him without picking up a massive portion of the check.
Playing the hypothetical game, what if the Yankees make Rodriguez available, pick up $90 million, and simply dump him, meaning there will be no other players changing hands? Should the Phillies get involved? The available third basemen on the market leaves much to be desired and A-Rod can likely still give you something. Although at 37-years-old, who knows how much that something is.
While it’s not the worst idea in the world, it’s not something the Phillies should pursue.
As we’ve learned this year, and in previous years (except of course the year the Yankees play the Phillies in the World Series) he stinks in the postseason. It’s gotten so bad, Joe Girardi has had to bench him.
During the regular season, his numbers are in sharp decline. Over 529 at-bats, A-Rod hit 18 home runs, knocked in 57 runs, and hit just .272 on the season. His .783 OPS was the worst of his illustrious career. Against righties, A-Rod had a .717 OPS, although he did kill lefties to the tune of a .924 OPS and eight homers in 173 PA’s.
The three-time MVP is bordering on defensive liability. At the hot corner, the Phillies have struggled to find a well-rounded player for a long time; really since Scott Rolen left town. A-rod is certainly no longer a dual threat.
Since 2010, Rodriguez’s defense has been on the slide. Placido Polanco could not stay healthy, but when he was on the field, few were better at third base. Polly’s Ultimate Zone Rating since 2010 ranks second, just behind Adrian Beltre, at 28.1; meaning that’s how many runs above average he has been at that position. Rodriguez’s UZR is just 5.4, and that’s after a slide of 3.9 this past season. The legs are getting heavier and slower, and it’s getting tougher to make the plays he used to make over there. By no means is he awful (yet), but that could be rapidly approaching.
So, he’s declining big time at the plate and in the field and would have to move from New York City to Philadelphia, a city equally, or perhaps more, harsh than the Big Apple. Certainly a parallel move.
One positive in all of this is that he SHOULD be in the mood to prove people wrong. It’s been an embarrassing playoffs for Rodriguez and guys of that stature oftentimes want to come back and rub it in the face of the team that shunned him. Regardless of if he’s dealt this offseason, he should be primed for a bit of a comeback if he works his ass off.
The reason I say no to A-Rod in Philly is because we’ve down a similar road with Polanco. The Phillies signed him for one year too many, and likely two years too many as he struggled to stay healthy following a decent first half of 2010 and first month of 2011. Even if you’re paying Rodriguez roughly $5 million over the final five seasons, which seems like a small amount on the surface, it’ll be a sunk cost in two-to-three years. Can the Phillies really afford more lost money with the Ryan Howard contract on the books? That $10-to-$15 million that could come in handy down the road.
Another issue that could likely be taken care of is that A-Rod holds a $5 million marketing agreement with the Yankees based on hitting home run milestones. So that’s an extra $5 million tacked on once he hits homer 660 (tying Willie Mays) and every home run milestone thereafter up to $30 million. Ugh.
With all of those elements together, it’s best to stay away from Rodriguez should he become available. It’ll be intriguing because of the name, the history, the possibility of power coming from third base, the weakness of the free agent market; but it’s best to look the other way. Too much money (even with the Yankees eating most) and most of all, too much drama. For A-Rod to have success, he either needs to hideaway in a market that will allow him to breathe, or he needs it to be a perfect situation: great supporting cast, able to settle for a lower lineup spot, doesn’t have to be center of attention on offense. It’s a lot to ask.
Now, my mind might change if the Yankees simply want to rid themselves of him completely and pick up $100 million or more, as Tim Kurkjian said on Mike and Mike Thursday morning. If the Phillies are paying $14 million or less over five years, that’s probably something you can deal with.
Here are some thoughts from twitter after I posted the question: