Alex Rodriguez a Candidate to Be Jason Bay-Ed by the New York Yankees?

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Alex Rodriguez a Candidate to Be Jason Bay-Ed by the New York Yankees?
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The New York Mets, cash strapped as they are, figured out a way earlier this week to dump outfielder Jason Bay and the $21 million they still owed him through 2014.

Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com wrote early Friday that the New York Yankees could use that move by the Mets as inspiration as they move forward with third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

In any event, it’s not a move the Yankees could think of making now. The Mets owed Bay, according to Newsday’s report on Thursday, his $16 million salary for 2013, a $3 million buyout for 2014 and the $2 million still due on Bay’s signing bonus.

The Yankees, however, are still on the hook for $114 million and five more years of Rodriguez.

Still, the notion is an intriguing one. The Mets didn’t release any details of the arrangement with Bay, other than to say the $21 million will be deferred over a number of years. The Mets did this once before with Bobby Bonilla, and they are still paying him to the tune of 25 annual installments of $1.2 million.

Given the sheer mass of Rodriguez’s remaining contract, a Bonilla-type arrangement would have to be spread out over, say, a century or so.

But even the cash-strapped ownership of the Mets, Fred and Jeff Wilpon, became convinced it was better to eat the remaining money on Bay’s deal than to keep him around.

Rodriguez will be 38 years old next summer. His production has been steadily declining since 2008, with the notable exception of his one huge postseason in 2009, and he has had an injury-filled last four years.

Al Bello/Getty Images
The New York Mets are still paying Bobby Bonilla.

The last time Rodriguez hit .300 for a season was a .302 mark in 2008. Since then, he has hit .286, .270, .276 and .272. Worse, his strikeouts spiked in 2012; Rodriguez fanned 116 times in 529 plate appearances last season compared to 120 whiffs in 708 trips to the plate in 2007.

Injuries limited Rodriguez to just 221 games in 2011-12 with 34 home runs and 119 RBI. Once upon a time, say as recently as two years ago, those were power numbers one could expect from A-Rod over a single season.

Then there’s the whole being subbed out and benched during this year’s playoffs.

General manager Brian Cashman still believes Rodriguez can be a productive player.

“As long as he can stay healthy, I think there’s no reason for him not to be productive,” Cashman said on the opening day of the GM meetings Wednesday.

There is a lot of evidence to the contrary, however. His struggles, particularly against right-handed pitching, in the playoffs were startling. A player on the threshold of 650 career home runs was flailing at everything right-handers threw at him, whether it was fastballs inside or down the middle or breaking stuff bouncing in the dirt.

Rodriguez was 3-for-25 in the postseason with 12 strikeouts and no extra-base hits or RBI. There are pitchers in the National League who put up better numbers than those.

The Yankees front office has talked a lot about getting payroll to less than $189 million by 2014. Given that scenario, how long can the Bombers afford to commit $25 million a year to a guy who is well down the path toward being a part-time player against left-handers?

At some point, the scales will tip, the math will be right and the move will become unavoidable. But for now, the question is simply this: When does it become cheaper to pay Alex Rodriguez to go away than it does to keep him on the roster?

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