A-Rod's career with the Yankees has to be all but over. How could it not be at this point?
How can the Yankees possibly bring back Rodriguez next year when manager Joe Girardi has pinch-hit for him three times during the postseason and benched him for two straight playoff games? Rodriguez wasn't in the original starting lineup for Game 4 and likely won't be when the game is played on Thursday (Oct. 18).
The message from the team is resounding: We don't think we can win with you anymore.
According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, that message has gotten through clearly to Rodriguez, and he's told close friends he's willing to move. While he won't ask for a trade, A-Rod also won't just accept being shipped off to any team. Rodriguez wants to play in a big market.
As I wrote in a previous article, several teams could show interest in trading for Rodriguez once the Yankees make him available. Those clubs include the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Angels.
But the most likely trade partner could be the Miami Marlins. The Marlins are the first team Nightengale mentions in his article. Perhaps that's because there was a rumor published earlier on Thursday by Keith Olbermann—yes, that Keith Olbermann—stating that the Marlins and Yankees have already spoken about a deal involving Rodriguez.
Sources told Olbermann that the Yankees would pay all of the $114 million remaining on the final five years of Rodriguez's contract.
Another possibility being discussed is that the Yankees would pay most of Rodriguez's salary but also take on Heath Bell—a player the Marlins almost certainly want to get rid of—and the $18 million remaining on his contract through 2014.
That addresses the initial questions that come up whenever the idea of trading Rodriguez is discussed. How are the Yankees going to move that contract? Which team would take on that kind of money?
It's difficult to imagine any scenario in which the Yanks don't eat the majority of the $114 million he's still owed. Under those circumstances, finding a team willing to take Rodriguez would be less of an obstacle.
While the reflexive impulse is to dismiss Olbermann's report, it's worth remembering that he used to be a sportscaster and presumably still has some sources that can provide good information. Additionally, he's a Yankees season ticket holder as well as a former part-time employee of the team, having been the in-season commentator for Old Timers' Day for 11 years.
However, it does seem dubious that Olbermann would get such news now, while the Yankees are still in the playoffs and controversy is swirling around Rodriguez and his current role with the team.
But is it that far-fetched to envision the Yankees and Marlins partnering up on a deal centered on Rodriguez?
The Marlins need a third baseman, left with Greg Dobbs at the position after dealing Hanley Ramirez away to the Dodgers before the July 31 trade deadline. While Dobbs is a good hitter, he profiles more as a role player rather than a starting third baseman. Even with his diminishing skills, Rodriguez would be an improvement for the Marlins at the hot corner.
Rodriguez would also presumably be a hometown favorite, having grown up in the Miami area and played his high school ball at Westminster Christian. A-Rod even signed a letter of intent to play baseball at the University of Miami and reportedly could have also played football there, but being selected No. 1 overall in the 1993 amateur draft made MLB too enticing.
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria could certainly use some star power to win back fans who felt duped by a new ballpark and offseason spending spree. Those supporters spurned the team when ownership eventually gave up on the season and traded away players like Ramirez, Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez while shopping around Josh Johnson.
But is Rodriguez really the figure to bring back skeptical Miami fans? He's never been a popular player to begin with due to his pursuit of the highest salary in MLB, attempts at a carefully contrived image and a lifestyle that appears more interested in celebrity than championship ambitions on the field.
Yet whether his achievements warrant such perception in recent seasons—especially in light of being famously benched—Rodriguez has been a superstar player. During the final five years of his contract, he will almost certainly reach the career milestones of 3,000 hits and 700 home runs.
Though it doesn't appear as attainable as it once may have, A-Rod still has a shot at breaking Barry Bonds' all-time record of 762 career homers. That's a chase toward history that many major league teams would like to sell, and the Marlins would surely relish such an opportunity, especially if they have difficulty fielding a playoff contender in the next few seasons.
For the Yankees, the benefits of trading Rodriguez are obvious.
Principal owner Hal Steinbrenner clears a huge salary off the payroll as he aims to get his budget under the $189 million luxury tax threshold for 2014. The Yanks get rid of a diva personality who doesn't appear to care about being a good teammate or committed winner. Watching him smile for cameras and wave "Hi, Mom!" after being taken out of the lineup seems terribly phony.
With budget flexibility from trading Rodriguez, the Yankees can get younger for the future and use their vast resources to address various holes on the roster. The team could pursue trades for San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley and Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton, for example.
Trading Rodriguez to the Marlins looks like such a good fit that it almost has to happen. No wonder Olbermann threw it out there, whether his information is legitimate or not. This could be the least surprising move of the offseason when it happens.
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