The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports
Posted: Thursday, Jan. 31 at 11:50 am ET (Update below)
No matter what happens with the latest PED scandal, sources tell the New York Daily News that Alex Rodriguez may have already played his last game with the Yankees.
It's A-Rod's latest hip surgery that could do in his career. He's expected to be back in 2013, but there's at least a chance that his rehab will hit too many bumps to allow him to return. And even if he does, the surgery is likely to derail his career and render him, perhaps at best, a below-average reserve player.
Also, he'll be returning to a team that is fed up with him and doesn't really want him anymore.
“I don’t know why he would want to go through the pain of rehabbing and trying to play up to the caliber of player he was, and come back to a game where nobody wants him,” said a baseball official.
Rodriguez could be forced into an early retirement by his health, in which case the Yankees would be able to collect insurance on his contract. Or he could voluntarily retire after returning to a diminished role. If that happened, he and the Yankees would have to work out a settlement.
There's still the possibility of the Yankees voiding Rodriguez's contract, but that's highly unlikely to happen. They need MLB to suspend him for his alleged PED use first, and the league is going to have a hard time doing that without help.
The feds aren't helping MLB. Michael S. Schmidt of The New York Times says the government is reluctant to provide information from its own investigation into the wellness clinic that was the subject of this week's Miami New Times report. Players, naturally, are unlikely to help MLB's investigation into the matter as well.
So if A-Rod is going to walk away, it's going to be A-Rod's choice in some form or another.
In the past, I would have said good luck with that. Rodriguez has always had a sort of stubbornness about him, and he continued to be stubborn even after his 2012 season ended in embarrassing fashion. He insisted that he was going to be back, even going so far as to say he wouldn't waive his no-trade clause if the Yankees were to find a trade destination for him.
But things have changed over the last couple of months. I'm assuming that Rodriguez wasn't expecting to undergo another major hip surgery, nor was he anticipating this latest PED mess to come to light. Regardless of whether or not the allegations are true, his public perception has taken another huge hit. Nothing he does is going to rescue him from the bad graces of fans (and probably some teammates as well).
So the scenarios outlined by the Daily News certainly add up. A-Rod can be a broken-down player who nobody wants, or he can wash his hands of the game and dissolve into the background.
If he makes that decision, it probably won't be for a while still. But right about now, there is indeed a reasonable doubt as to whether A-Rod will ever suit up for the Yankees again.
UPDATE: Thursday, Jan. 31 at 7:25 pm ET
Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports has it on good authority from sources that A-Rod has no plans to retire. Put simply, he "will not retire, has no interest in a discounted buyout on the $114 million he is owed over the next five years and, if it came to it, likely would not approve a trade away from the Yankees."
As much as the Yankees want Rodriguez to go away, he's intent on sticking around.