Revisiting the A-Rod Contract

Rob Neyer wrote this piece in yesterday’s NY Times about Alex Rodriguez‘s contract with the Yankees.

Rationality doesn’t exist when Hank Steinbrenner insinuates himself into a negotiation so it shouldn’t have been a shock when the Yankees decided to reward A-Rod for opting out of his contract in 2007. Because the contract has become so toxic and A-Rod is physically deteriorating right before our eyes, the Yankees can reasonably wonder what they’re going to get from him in the immediate and distant future.

Tied in with that contract and the Yankees desperate hopes to get something—anything—out of A-Rod, it’s not surprising that they let him go to Germany for experimental procedures on his shoulder and knee.

Considering how onerous that contract is, that the team is cognizant of the new luxury tax guidelines and wants to stay below what amounts to a salary cap by 2014, A-Rod’s deal is a sinkhole in their budget and it’s showing up in their scarcity of moves this winter—they’ve stood pat when they really aren’t in a position to stand pat.

The horrible contract aside, it’s doubtful that they ever expected him to be a problem in the lineup as well as on the ledger.

There was always the “well, it’s A-Rod” argument that he’d produce for the team in some way independent of salary; the money’s gone and it’s not coming back, but at least he’d play every day and hit.

But he’s not playing every day; his hitting is declining; his defensive range is decreasing; and he’s got six years remaining on that contract.

Amid the numerous reasons why Steinbrenner’s intervention was idiotic, there were justifications that they’d get offense from the player for the duration.

Accounting for extenuating circumstances and the closing window of chemical assistance (PEDs), a 33% dropoff in his home run output in 2007 would still yield MVP-quality numbers with 38 homers plus huge on-base and slugging percentages. Greatness diminished is still greatness; if A-Rod were better than the rest of baseball while using enhancers, he’d be better than the rest of baseball playing clean.

It made sense in theory.

He’d been durable and the last thing the Yankees were expecting was this dramatic physical breakdown.

A-Rod’s contrition for the ill-timed opt-out during the 2007 World Series and subsequent split with Scott Boras masked the fact that he got what he wanted—a ridiculous extension—from the whole episode.

The drug use aiding players’ performance into their late-30s to replicate what they did in their 20s implied that there was little risk in a contract that kept a great player past his 40th birthday—worst case, he’d walk a lot and be a threat in the lineup with 25 homers. That’s still productive and useful.

But A-Rod is coming apart physically. If Steinbrenner had been persuaded that a mid-to-late 30s decline was inevitable while taking history and the new drug testing (amphetamines included) into account, the Yankees might’ve avoided this nightmarish contract. But the baseball people must’ve figured they’d get something out of him even in the old-man years.

Now it doesn’t look like they’re going to.

They’ll certainly be paying for it though.

Literally and figuratively.

I’m planning on adding a Fantasy Baseball page onto my site and don’t play Fantasy Baseball—you can see my conundrum. So if you can write and know Roto (and I really don’t care what you say as long as you don’t give me a lot of editing work, aggravation and know what you’re talking about), email me on the contact link at the top of the page.

It’s unpaid, but people will read your stuff.

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  1. #1 by Jeff on January 4, 2012 - 5:37 pm

    Six years left. Wow. Glad the Cards avoided that situation with AP. I know AP is a different animal than A-Rod, but he is an animal and he will decline.

    • #2 by admin on January 5, 2012 - 12:00 am

      No one could’ve expected A-Rod to fall apart physically as he has, but in the days of no drugs whatsoever, this is going to become more and more frequent and we’ll see more players not only declining at 35, but retiring entirely!

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