Revisiting the A-Rod Contract

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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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A-Rod Iiiinnnnn Spaaaaaaace

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Maybe by the latter years of Alex Rodriguez’s Yankees contract, they’ll be able to send him into space for treatment on his broken down body.

In an effort to heal his ailing knee and shoulder, the Yankees okayed A-Rod’s trip to Germany for what are being called “experimental” procedures by a doctor who had been referred to him by Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant.

You can read details of the doctor, the procedures and the Yankees due diligence before allowing it here in this NY Times story.

The issue to me is how A-Rod is falling apart and the Yankees decision to let him undergo what were recently unheard of healing techniques in an effort to get something out of their remaining and regretted investment in the player.

A-Rod won his second MVP as a Yankee in 2007 then infamously opted-out of his contract during the World Series; Hank Steinbrenner’s idiotic interference and decision to give A-Rod what he wanted with a $275 million contract is going to haunt the club in multiple ways for years to come.

They’re trying to get their payroll in line to adhere to the new luxury tax guidelines and that contract is an albatross that will prevent them from acquiring players in their primes that are going to help them more than a deteriorating and overpaid player nearing 40 and beyond.

He hasn’t played in more than 138 games since 2007 and last season, he played in 99; his body is failing him; and his production, while still good, isn’t going to be worth anything close to the $143 million on his deal through 2017.

Opposing clubs no longer fear him. He’s still a threat, but not an overriding concern.

Do you realize he was paid $31 million in 2011?

That he’s going to receive $29 million in 2012? $28 million in 2013?

That they’ll pay a player $61 million from ages 40-42?

And that he’s already in drastic physical and performance-related decline at age 36?

No one should be surprised that the Yankees okayed his trip to Germany, nor should they be surprised at the team letting him explore every avenue he can to stay on the field and provide something for that money; the main thing for the Yankees was that they wanted to make certain that whatever A-Rod was doing, it wasn’t going to violate MLB rules. As long as he’s not going to get in trouble and have it trickle down to the team, they’ll let him do what he wants to get healthy.

On the bright side, by the time the contract is in its waning, merciful days there might be a new procedure available…on Jupiter!

And at that point, I’m not sure the Yankees are going to be all that bothered if A-Rod boldly goes where no one has gone before for an experimental treatment and doesn’t come back.

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