After a week straight out of the pages of The Bronx Zoo, one thing continues to be abundantly clear when it comes to the relationship between Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees: Neither side likes each other, but there's little reason to believe something will lead the two sides to part ways.
Yet, if Rodriguez and the Yankees do both wish to part company, it won't be easy. Both sides will need to benefit, millions of dollars must be settled accordingly, the media and fan perception will linger for a long, long time, and, if a trade partner is solicited, the combination between desperation and opportunity must match at the perfect moment.
Don't hold your breath for Rodriguez to do anything but dodge Biogenesis questions and take grounders in Tampa for the next few weeks, but if the Yankees and Rodriguez don't stay together through the 2017 season, here's a step-by-step process on how the saga could play out.
In the event of a buyout, the Yankees hold no leverage. As the media has floated ideas about Rodriguez buckling under the pressure of returning, embarrassed to play at a diminished level or wanting a fresh start somewhere new, the bottom line remains: If Alex Rodriguez simply shows up to work everyday, the New York Yankees are required to pay every cent of his guaranteed contract.
With roughly $100 million, including four years, $86 million from 2014-2017, slated to come his way, the idea of A-Rod surrendering a penny of that to lose his job and leave New York is comical.
For those of you familiar with Seinfeld, the scenario is reminiscent of an episode, "The Voice," in which George feuded with his employer, Play Now, but due to his contract, they couldn't fire him, left to make his life a living hell at work in hopes he would ask to leave.
Wonder if Yanks will treat A-Rod like Play Now treated George Costanza. Stick him in a bunker until he agrees to walk away from contract.— Anthony Castrovince (@castrovince) January 31, 2013
Considering that Rodriguez already tried to leave money on the table in order to join the Yankees and escape Texas in 2004, he's not going to again.
If New York truly wants to write a check to make Rodriguez disappear, it will cost every dime the contract states.
Despite a no-trade clause in the deal, there is a far greater chance that New York and Rodriguez could part ways through transaction with another club.
Why? A trade, if green-lighted by A-Rod, would provide the third baseman two certainties: The remainder of his contract, and, perhaps more importantly, the guarantee that another franchise values him and is committing to him for the next four years.
The logistics, including how much of the tab the Yankees would have to pick up and what they could expect in return, are far more trivial than finding an actual willing partner.
If said partner actually does exist, here are two possibilities: Los Angeles and Miami.
As Joel Sherman dreamed up in his New York Post blog this afternoon, the Dodgers need a third baseman, have money and happen to have a spare outfielder, Andre Ethier, with a contract that is at least comparable (4 years, $71 million vs. 4 years, $86 million from 2013-2017) to Rodriguez's deal.
The idea of the Marlins spending any money, let alone, say, half, of what Rodriguez is owed seems hysterical, but if there was an owner to do another 180 degree turn, it would be Jeffrey Loria.
Bringing Rodriguez home to Miami could actually be a public relations boon for Miami, giving the team a more respectable payroll, appeasing any Miami-based supporters Rodriguez still garners and pairing the one of the best home run hitters of the last two decades with Giancarlo Stanton, likely the best home run hitter of the next decade.
If both sides were committed to an actual buyout or trade, the best course of action would be to make the split look amicable in the media.
The Yankees could thank Rodriguez for his decade of mostly outstanding play, recognize the MVPs won, playoff trips earned and the 2009 postseason for the ages.
Rodriguez could thank the fans and organization for mostly standing behind him through the good and bad times while referencing the thrill it was to play for the New York Yankees.
As much as fans and some media members may wish an amicable departure could occur this weekend, it's far, far more complicated than that.
The legal and financial loop holes would be grand, leaving heaps of paper work on Bud Selig's desk to approve. Furthermore, until the Biogenesis scandal is sorted through, no team will consider Rodriguez, even at a diminished cost.
Will Rodriguez be a Yankee for the remainder of his contract?
Barring something unforeseen, the next major league uniform Alex Rodriguez will wear features Yankee pinstripes.
If that changes before 2017, the most likely timetable is next offseason.
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