The New York Yankees and their ravenous fanbase have a dream. A dream that ends with Alex Rodriguez never again wearing the pinstripes and no longer being part of the Yankees organization, banned for life from the "House that George Built."
But does it really have to stay a dream? Or is there a way to make this dream become reality?
Where there's a will, there's a way.
The hard part is finding that way, which becomes incredibly difficult with Rodriguez due an exorbitant amount of money between now and the end of the 2017 season.
But that dream can become reality earlier than when his contract runs out.
Let's map out how the Yankees can get there.
The Rest of 2013 and 2014
If we are to believe Sunday's report from the New York Post's Ken Davidoff and Joel Sherman that Alex Rodriguez will be suspended for the rest of the 2013 season and all of 2014 by MLB at some point this week, then the next year-and-a-half are taken care of without the Yankees having to lift a finger.
Per the report:
It is believed MLB wants to make the suspensions formal this week before teams reach the point at which they have fewer than 50 games to play. The penalty for first-time offenders who fail a PED test is 50 games.
MLB apparently is willing to give the same sanction to first-time offenders in this case, in which the evidence does not come from a failed urine or blood exam, but rather from an investigation. The thinking is MLB wants to provide the first-time offenders this carrot: Don’t appeal and you can serve the entire suspension this year and start with a clean slate for next season.
Rodriguez does not fit into this category. It has become evident MLB is going to demand Rodriguez’s punishment far exceed Braun’s. That is because MLB believes the combination of being a user and obstructing the case demands a much stiffer penalty — especially because Rodriguez has admitted to previous drug use from 2001-03 and because MLB believes Rodriguez subsequently lied to its investigators in previous interviews about his usage.
Even if A-Rod fought that suspension and filed an appeal, he has no assurances that the MLBPA will send representatives to help him fight it.
Michael Weiner, the head of the union, has already stated as much, via the New York Daily News: "I can tell you, if we have a case where there really is overwhelming evidence, that a player committed a violation of the program, our fight is going to be that they make a deal."
The rumored suspension might be MLB's equivalent of a deal, as baseball would love nothing more than for Rodriguez to be banned from the game for life, unable to add more tarnish to the game's record books like those who came before him.
If there's no looming suspension, the Yankees can keep A-Rod off of the field for the rest of the season by simply refusing to clear him medically. While he would fight that, the team could drag that fight out through the end of the season.
But let's assume for a moment that the suspension laid out by Davidoff and Sherman is correct, that MLB hands it down and that A-Rod wins his appeal, with the suspension for the rest of the 2013 season the only part that remains.
Either way, all that happens is that the Yankees are forced to make a decision a year earlier than expected, which is no big deal.
2014 or 2015 (Depending on the Arbitrator's Ruling)
Whether it's after the 2013 season or after the 2014 season, the Yankees will have three choices to pick from when it comes to getting rid of A-Rod once and for all:
- Eat most of the money left on his deal and trade him to a team like the Miami Marlins for next to nothing.
- Eat all the money left on his deal and release him, making him a free agent.
- Work out a mutual buyout of the remaining years on his deal.
Of those options, No. 3 is the least likely scenario, as there's no chance of Rodriguez being a willing participant in something that doesn't result in him getting every last cent that his contract says he's owed, especially after not being paid for the length of his suspension.
You can't blame A-Rod for taking that stance either. We all would, especially when we are talking about a sum of money that is in excess of $60 million.
Nor is he going to walk away from the game that he loves. If there's anything truthful about Rodriguez, it's his passion for playing baseball, so early retirement is out of the question. He's going to play until nobody will give him a contract to do so.
No. 1 is highly unlikely—not because the Yankees wouldn't eat the money on his deal, but because it's hard to believe that even a team like Miami, which needs all the help at the box office that it can get, would be willing to bring a distraction like Rodriguez into its clubhouse.
A-Rod would also have 10-and-five rights, with the ability to block trades, making that scenario even more difficult than it may have originally seemed.
The Solution: No. 2—Release Alex Rodriguez
So that leaves us with the Yankees eating the money on his deal and washing their hands of the fallen star. While it's the most expensive option for the team, it also makes the most sense, and Rodriguez can't stand in the way.
Request release waivers on him as soon as he's eligible to return from suspension, and when he clears waivers (which he will), send him packing.
It'll be a painful pill for the team to swallow, but the Yankees were going to have to pay him that money anyway.
The team can no longer count on Rodriguez to stay healthy for a full season, much less produce the numbers that go along with his incredibly high salary. The distractions that he brings with him aren't worth the hassle, and there are more productive players that the Yankees can give his roster spot to.
His chase of Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds is meaningless—yet he can earn up to $30 million in incentives as he passes the legendary figures that remain ahead of him on the career home run leaderboard. All the extra revenue that the team was counting on to help supplement those incentives is gone. Nobody cares about A-Rod's home run totals anymore.
While it's easy for me to sit here and write this—hey, it's not my money that I'm throwing away—there's no reason to prolong the team's suffering by keeping him around merely because it owes him a lot of cash.
Both sides can go their separate ways, and the next era of Yankees baseball can begin.