January 11th, 2014. It’s official- Alex Rodriguez has had his suspension reduced from 211 games to 162.
Not if A-Rod has anything to do with it. Rodriguez has vowed to take his fight to court. The highest court. Now the Supreme Court has, or is, under no obligation to hear this case, but that is another discussion for a different day.
So, exactly how does the latest chapter in the A-Rod melodrama affect the New York Yankees? From my seat, one of three ways- Fantastic news, oh great, or how are we supposed to move on?
Let’s take the obvious one- fantastic news. This decision takes the Yankees off the hook for $25 million (A-Rod’s salary) for the 2014 season. This means not only do they get relief from the luxury tax of approximately $24m, it will bring them below the $189 million threshold. That is, if they choose to stay there. More than likely, in typical Yankee fashion, they will use the money saved to plug the gap left by Rodriquez. Reportedly, if the suspension was held up, two of the free agent the Yanks are interested in pursuing are Micheal Young and Mark Reynolds.
Young is coming off a split season with the Dodgers and Phillies, and is a 3B/SS who could fit right in at Arod’s position. However, he isn’t exactly a power threat, with 8 HR in 147 games last year.
Reynolds, a 1B who spent 2014 with the Yankee’s cross city rivals Mets, could provide some pop at the plate. He had 21 HR in 135 games, and is younger and waaaaaay more cost effective that A-Rod. Comparatively, Rodriguez had 7 HR in 44 games, which basically equates to 21 in 132.
I’m sure the Yankees have enough options already on paper to fill a small library, but enough speculation on players. Basically the ruling allows the Yankees financial freedom, plus the intangible of getting rid of the Rodriguez circus. The Bronx is letting out a collective ‘sigh’. From the front office to the guy in the fantasy pool, a huge exhale.
Next, the very unlikely- oh great. In strangest of strange scenarios, IF it goes to court, and IF it gets overturned…. the Yankees are in the same predicament they found themselves in 2013. Paying an aging superstar who’s numbers keep declining and headaches continue to mount exponentially. Can you imagine the absolute mayhem that would surround every game, home and away, if by some chance this ruling was overturned? The box score would become a side note. And that predicament they were in last season? 12 games out of first place in the AL East, and over the luxury tax once again, even if they sign zero free agents.
OK, the final and second most likely scenario- how are we supposed to move on? If there is some odd scenario that a case like this does go to court- what are the Yankees to do? They are in baseball free agent purgatory. This case would most likely not be heard quickly. Probably months. The Bronx Bombers would have no idea which way the case might swing. (In fact, they probably would still be reeling from the fact that the case was even heard!) Will they have luxury tax relief? Can they sign free agents? Will they have one of baseball’s most expensive villian/cheater/scapegoat of all-time playing third base at a $25 million dollar price tag?
The third scenario might be the most costly in the long run for the New York Yankees. Not knowing what they are facing is the most daunting. With the latest ruling, there still are no concrete answers. Perhaps tomorrow. Maybe next month. Then again- who knows?
But fear not for Alex Rodriguez! Even if he is not allowed to play in 2014 in MLB, the independent Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League have invited him to play third base for their team. At a reduced salary one can assume.