Has A-Rod taken his final trot back to the dugout in a Yankee uniform?
A-Rod, one of the best hitters in the history of the game, is clearly inside of his own head striking himself out and he is making himself look like a fool at the plate, especially in high-pressure situations.
He is a huge distraction for a Yankee team that is built to win right now and makes it difficult on Joe Girardi to pay attention to more pressing issues on the team because he is constantly worrying about how his fragile third baseman will react to negative attention.
It is time for the Yankees-A-Rod marriage to end. It has been nine long seasons, eight of which ended in disappointment and only one with a glorious November parade down the Canyon of Heroes.
A-Rod playing next to Derek Jeter is no longer working for either party, which is why GM Brian Cashman needs to get creative with how to move him this offseason.
Here are five trade scenarios that (pending Rodriguez's approval) could help everyone involved and move A-Rod away from the Bronx.
Would the Red Sox be interested in moving John Lackey's contract?
Trade: Rodriguez, Austin Romine and Joba Chamberlain for John Lackey and Ryan Lavarnway. Yankees pay 1/4 of Rodriguez's contract in the years following the end of Lackey's contract.
Why it Works for the Red Sox: The Red Sox, after trading Adrian Gonzalez, are in desperate need of another middle-of-the-order bat. Rodriguez, although despised by many Sox fans, will fill that role and can also occupy the void left by Kevin Youkilis at third base for at least another season or two before he may have to displace an aging David Ortiz at DH.
Also, the Red Sox bullpen is among the worst in baseball. Joba Chamberlain, while not the superstar he was a few seasons ago, is still a very effective pitcher with closer potential when fully healthy. He could step in as the Red Sox closer immediately, and pitching in the ninth in Fenway Park could be just the adrenaline boost he needs to rediscover his fastball.
In terms of the catchers involved, Lavarnway is major league-ready right now but is being pushed to the bench by Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Romine could use another year in the minors before a transition away from Saltamacchia could be in order for the Red Sox. Also, Lavarnway is expendable with the addition of David Ross.
Why it Works for the Yankees: The Yankees always need starting pitching. Lackey, if nothing else, will provide depth and they will actually be paying less for his services than for Rodriguez's.
Romine, a valued catching prospect, is expendable with the addition of Lavarnway as a replacement and with highly touted prospect Gary Sanchez rising through the low levels of the minors. Also, Chamberlain is expendable as the Yankees have plenty of bullpen depth.
Adam Dunn would have a field day with the short porch in right field in the Bronx
Trade: Rodriguez and Austin Romine for Adam Dunn. Yankees pay at least 1/4 of Rodriguez's contract.
Why it Works for the White Sox: Dunn is grossly overpaid. He will make $15 million in each of the next two seasons before becoming a free agent. For a player who hit .204 last year and .159 two years ago, he can't hit enough home runs to warrant his salary at DH.
Dunn isn't a player the White Sox are itching to move, but receiving AJ Pierzynski's eventual replacement in Romine (if Pierzynski even re-signs) and an everyday third baseman in Rodriguez who could contribute in the middle of the order makes sense in exchange for Dunn.
Why it Works for the Yankees: I went over in the last slide why Romine is expendable for the Yankees, as the presence of Gary Sanchez brings one to question whether Romine will even be able to hold down the starting spot five years from now.
Picking up Dunn would make the Yankees a more dangerous power team than they already are. Dunn is a dead-pull hitter with tremendous power. He could hit 50 or more home runs with the short porch at Yankee Stadium in everyday DH duties.
Is Vernon Wells more overpaid that Alex Rodriguez?
Trade: Rodriguez for Vernon Wells and Luis Jimenez
Why it Works for the Angels: Who is the Angels starting third baseman this season? Right now, Alberto Callaspo is penciled in to start for Mike Scoscia. While he is serviceable, why wouldn't Scoscia want an impact bat like Rodriguez, who would get a lot less attention with Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo surrounding him in the lineup?
Wells is arguably the worst contract in all of baseball. He will make $21 million next season and he not only doesn't produce, but he has been relegated to the bench. Jimenez is a good prospect, but his upside is limited and he is not an important piece to the Angels' future.
Why it Works for the Yankees: Even the Yankees would have to be hesitant to take on Vernon Wells, but they are short on outfielders and a change of scenery could be good for the once-potent Wells. His last season in Toronto was a very productive one and it is possible that he just never took to Los Angeles and his play suffered.
Jimenez is a free-swinging third base prospect in the mold of a young Robinson Cano. He hits for average and has power to the gaps, but doesn't walk a whole lot. He could end up being an impact player with his power and his speed. The tutelage of hitting guru Kevin Long could help refine his skills.
Jayson Werth hardly contributed to the first-place Nationals last season
Trade: Yankees trade Rodriguez and Dellin Betances to the Dodgers, Dodgers trade Ted Lilly to the Nationals, Nationals trade Jayson Werth and Wilson Ramos to the Yankees, Yankees trade Melky Mesa to the Nationals.
Why it Works for the Nationals: Okay, I admit this one is a bit of a long-shot. However, in terms of just baseball, the trade actually works out nicely for the Nationals. They give up Jayson Werth, a guy who will make upwards of $20 million from 2014-2017 and doesn't produce anywhere close to that level. They lose Ramos, a good young catcher, but can replace him with Kurt Suzuki.
In return, they get a solid back-of-the-rotation lefty in Ted Lilly and a toolsy outfielder in Melky Mesa. Mesa is a real sleeper in this deal, as he could have future upside as an everyday player in a corner outfield spot hitting for average, power and stealing bases.
Why it Works for the Dodgers: Well, this is where the trade gets iffy. Do the Dodgers have incentive to make this deal? That is why I included Betances, a young flame-throwing pitcher with ace upside but who has struggled with control in his minor league career. A move to the National League could be just what he needs to get his career on track.
As for A-Rod, the new Magic Johnson-led Dodgers ownership hasn't been shy about picking up under-performing, overpaid big names such as Carl Crawford, Hanley Ramirez, Josh Beckett and Adrian Gonzalez. Rodriguez would be a welcome addition (as long as Hanley moves back to shortstop permanently).
Why it Works for the Yankees: Trading Betances hurts the Yankees farm system as they don't have any legitimate right-handed pitching prospects near the upper levels of the minors other than him.
However, the Yankees don't do so poorly here. Jayson Werth is a proven hitter in the postseason with the Phillies who the Yankees will hope needs a new city to get his bat back on track.
Also, bringing in Wilson Ramos is a potential stop-gap at worst and long-term solution at best at catcher for the Yankees, who cannot continue to keep bringing in Russell Martin on one-year contracts while he hits near the .200 mark.
Ramos is a solid all-around catcher who is an above-average defender and will hit for at least average power.
Will the Diamondbacks finally move superstar outfielder Justin Upton?
Trade: Rodriguez, Dellin Betances, Mason Williams, Eduardo Nunez and at least half of Rodriguez's contract for Justin Upton
Why it Works for the D'Backs: Giving up Justin Upton will be tough, but I believe that eventually they will have to move him or else risk losing him to free agency after 2015.
Also, his salary will drastically increase to about $14 million after next season and the Diamondbacks are not projected to contend or finish toward the top of the NL West. Why pay him all that money when you could move him and take a huge step in rebuilding?
Betances gives the Diamondbacks another highly rated Yankee-grown righty, just like Ian Kennedy. Nunez (with some focus in the field) can be a solid-hitting everyday shortstop in the Major Leagues.
Rodriguez will come relatively risk-free, as the Yankees will pay most of his salary for him to be included in the deal and his name alone will help fill seats.
However, Mason Williams is the real piece in this trade that makes it attractive for Arizona. Williams is a five-tool talent who ranks among the better outfield prospects in the game. He could end up being a good replacement for Upton in one of the corners or could end up in center field, where his good arm and speed will make him a plus defender.
Why it Works for the Yankees: This is the dream scenario for New York. If Arizona tries to move Upton, one of the top young corner outfielders in the game, the Yankees should pounce and empty the upper levels of the farm to land him.
Upton is a once-in-a-generation kind of talent who could make an immediate impact in the Yankees lineup and give the Bronx Bombers a deadly combination of Upton-Cano in the heart of the order.