Why All Signs Point to Alex Rodriguez Staying with the Yankees Through 2013

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Why All Signs Point to Alex Rodriguez Staying with the Yankees Through 2013
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Fans of the New York Yankees want Alex Rodriguez gone. They don't care where he goes so long as he goes somewhere other than The Bronx.

They will not get their wish.

I don't doubt that many—maybe even most—Yankees fans already realize this, but it's only becoming more and more obvious as time goes by that A-Rod is going to remain a Yankee in 2013 and beyond. Whether people like it or not, it looks like the Yankees are stuck with their once-great and now horribly overpriced third baseman.

How do we know for sure, you ask?

Well, if you want to get technical, we don't know for sure whether or not A-Rod is going to be sticking around in New York in 2013. Him staying just happens to be the most logical conclusion to draw after reading all the signs.

And the signs are...

 

He Doesn't Want to Go Elsewhere

Trading Alex Rodriguez would not be a simple matter of Brian Cashman having a chat with another general manager and then pushing a button. Some sort of an agreement would have to be made on who would be responsible for what in regard to the $114 million still owed to A-Rod, and figuring out compensation for the Yankees would be like pulling teeth from a very ticked-off shark.

It could take hours, days, even weeks to put an A-Rod trade together. Make no mistake about it.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
"Sure, I'll waive my no-trade clause...PSYCHE!"

And then A-Rod could kill the agreed-upon deal in a matter of seconds. Such is life when you have full no-trade protection.

On the day the Detroit Tigers eliminated the Yankees from the playoffs in the ALCS, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that he had it on good authority that A-Rod would consider waiving his no-trade protection if the Yankees found a big-market taker for him. If somebody like, say, the Los Angeles Dodgers wanted him, A-Rod and the Yankees could have parted ways.

But then the man himself spoke after the Yankees were eliminated, and he sang a totally different tune.

Via Peter Botte of the New York Daily News:

Cue Yankees fans all over the world groaning in unison.

A-Rod is a lot of things, and it seems stubborn is one of them. Whether he legitimately wants to redeem himself or he just wants to stay in New York to spite all his haters, it seems his mind is made up.

Granted, Botte is right when he says that plans change. A-Rod may have it in his mind that staying in New York is the best thing for him, but he could very well change his mind if the Yankees agree to trade him to a team and place he likes.

But just how desperate are the Yankees to trade A-Rod?

From the sound of things, not very.

 

The Yankees Don't Want Him to Go Elsewhere as Much as the Fans Do

Fans have a darn good reason to be down on A-Rod at the moment. He's not close to being worth the kind of money he's being paid, and he was next to useless in the postseason. In seven games, he collected only three hits in 25 at-bats, striking out 12 times.

A-Rod was also in a slump before the postseason began, as he hit .261/.341/.369 in 28 games after he was activated from the disabled list in early September. He had missed the previous several weeks with a broken hand thanks to a Felix Hernandez fastball.

The numbers were bad enough. A-Rod didn't exactly help heal his public perception by getting caught flirting with a couple of women during Game 1 of the ALCS, an incident that was reported by the New York Post.

However, it's fair to say that the fans hate A-Rod way more than his bosses do. 

In fact, his bosses don't seem to hate him at all.

According to Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com, A-Rod and Yankees manager Joe Girardi talked on the phone for more than an hour this past week. A source indicated that the two of them smoothed some things over.

Nick Laham/Getty Images
It seems Girardi and A-Rod are still capable of being friends.

"It was a great conversation," said the source. "Joe could not have been more supportive, and Alex could not have been more receptive."

Matthews characterized this as the start of a "fence-mending" process between A-Rod and the Yankees, and that sounds about right to me. If A-Rod and the guy who benched him in the postseason on a couple of different occasions can talk comfortably with one another, then the Yankees don't necessarily have to fear A-Rod and Girardi coming to blows next season. If one stays, the other doesn't have to go.

Rodriguez has support in the front office as well. Brian Cashman may have said recently, via ESPNNewYork.com, that A-Rod is no longer a superstar, but he did defend A-Rod's honor more than a lot of people are willing to these days.

"He's still an above-average third baseman...That means despite the contract that we had committed to him, that he's an asset at this stage still," said Cashman.

Some fans might think that Cashman has the bar set pretty low for what he perceives to be "average," but his claim does have some legs.

Rodriguez's offensive numbers are getting worse every year, but he deserves at least some props for the kind of season he was having before King Felix drilled him in the hand in late July. Through his first 94 games, A-Rod had an .806 OPS with 15 homers and 44 RBI. At that pace, he was going to finish with around 25 homers and 80 RBI. 

Numbers such as these obviously don't make A-Rod a superstar worth tens of millions of dollars every year, but there are more than a few third baseman out there who would love to do what A-Rod was doing throughout the bulk of the 2012 season.

Thus, "above-average."

That's what Cashman thinks anyway, and his opinion is the only one that matters. And since he has this opinion of A-Rod, he doesn't have to trade A-Rod.

Nor does he want to.

 

Brian Cashman Has Other Fish to Fry

When Keith Olbermann (of all people) reported a couple of weeks ago that the Yankees were discussing a trade that would send A-Rod to the Miami Marlins, a lot of people figured it was some sort of joke.

It turns out that a joke is exactly what it was. Wallace Matthews and Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com got to the bottom of things and found out that the rumor was born out of a lighthearted conversation between Yankees president Randy Levine and Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria.

Cashman, apparently, did not get to share in the joke. He had to be the guy to deny it anyway, telling anybody who asked that the report was not true.

For his part, Cashman isn't overly determined to trade A-Rod. Soon after the Yankees were eliminated from the postseason, Cashman told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that he wasn't anticipating making any effort to trade Rodriguez this winter.

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
New meme idea: Cashmanning.

"He's our third baseman,'' Cashman said. "I'm going to focus on other areas.''

Cashman did, however, say before he talked to Heyman that he'll listen to what other teams have to say if anybody comes calling about A-Rod.

"It's not like I'm going to hang phones up on anybody who wants to make any overtures about anything," Cashman said, via ESPNNewYork.com.

This was headline news at the time, but it wouldn't have been if Alex Rodriguez's name wasn't Alex Rodriguez. General managers who aren't open to anything and everything at any time have no place in baseball.

Because Cashman is open to the idea, any team willing to acquire A-Rod should feel free to pick up the phone. Cashman may not want to deal Rodriguez, but that doesn't mean a deal can't be made.

So, does anybody out there want a washed-up third baseman who has five years left on his contract?

...Anybody?

...Bueller?

 

Nobody's Going to Come Calling for A-Rod

When people first started kicking around the idea of A-Rod being traded this winter, the first team on the list of possibilities was the Marlins for obvious reasons.

After them came the Los Angeles Dodgers. Because, you know, taking on other people's fat contracts is kinda their thing these days.

We know that the owner of the Marlins at least has a comedic interest in A-Rod, but do the Marlins or the Dodgers actually have any real interest in him?

According to Heyman, the answer is no.

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Pictured: Dodgers GM Ned Colletti hiding from Alex Rodriguez.

A person familiar with the Dodgers' plans said that the club has no interest in Rodriguez, and that makes sense. They won't need another third baseman if Hanley Ramirez is the club's full-time third baseman in 2013, and my guess is that they don't want the Yankees thinking that they'd be willing to take on another $114 million after having already absorbed $250 million or so in salaries from the Boston Red Sox in August.

As for the Marlins, the only thing linking them to A-Rod so far is the joke shared between Loria and Levine. It's not hard to imagine them taking on A-Rod, but indications are that they would only do so if they didn't have to pay him anything or send the Yankees anything in return. They can't afford to take any unnecessary risks after the season they just had.

If the Marlins and Dodgers can be safely crossed off the list of potential suitors, one has to wonder who else would be willing to take on A-Rod.

The answer: Not many. In fact, the list may be blank beyond the Marlins and Dodgers.

This would explain Heyman's latest A-Rod report from a few days ago:

Granted, the World Series wasn't over yet. Now that it is over, perhaps the calls will start trickling into Cashman's office.

Maybe, but doubtful at the same time. Even if a club were to get A-Rod for free, that club would still be banking on the notion that A-Rod would be capable of producing in the final five years of his contract. At the moment, it looks like Rodriguez only has one or two decent years left in him, and it also looks like he's ticketed for full-time DH duty in the very near future. He may be above-average now, but not for much longer.

It's up to Rodriguez to prove otherwise. If he has a solid season in 2013, that's when we could see the Yankees get more aggressive about moving him and more teams line up to acquire him.

As things stand right now, the Yankees stand to gain absolutely nothing by trading A-Rod and clubs have absolutely no incentive to pursue him.

Had you asked me at the very moment the Yankees were eliminated, I would have said A-Rod was a lock to be moved this winter.

The circumstances have changed. Now, I'd say he's a lock to stay. 

 

Note: Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted. Salary figures courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts.

 

If you want to talk baseball, hit me up on Twitter.

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