Past TimesOctober 11, 2006
A New Home for A-Rod?
By Al Doyle

It's no secret that Alex Rodriguez may have played his last game for the Yankees. When Joe Torre dropped A-Rod to eighth in the batting order in Game 4 of the American League Division Series against the Tigers, it indicated very uncharacteristic panic on Torre's part or a stunning lack of confidence in A-Rod.

The future Hall of Famer's "poor" year - 35 home runs, 121 RBI, 90 walks and a .290 average - are the kind of stats that most players can only dream about. Recent declarations of A-Rod's future with the Yankees may be sincere, or they could be a tactic designed to fend off lowball bidders.

Perhaps Torre - a manager known for his communication skills - will have a talk with A-Rod and reassure him of his star status. Problem solved, at least until Steinbrenner throws a tantrum or the New York media jumps on A-Rod's next slump.

If the Yankees ultimately decide to dump Rodriguez, one question would dominate the process: What kind of value do they place on A-Rod? Do his playoff struggles make him as devalued as an obscure Third World currency, or would full compensation for a 31-year-old, five-tool player be expected? My guess is that A-Rod won't be given away if a trade takes place, but potential buyers will get a discount on his considerable talent.

There is the matter of a no-trade clause, but that obstacle has already been overcome once before when A-Rod was picked up from the Rangers. Some observers point to his potential pride about leaving New York on unsuccessful terms, but any competent PR specialist can fix that.

"It's painful to leave the Yankees, but the (fill in the team) have made it clear how much they want me here, and I'm thrilled to be a part of this team" or a similarly diplomatic statement from A-Rod will surely be uttered during a post-trade press conference. The chance to escape from the Big Apple pressure cooker may be very appealing, so it's more of an "I'll go to the right place" clause than an ironclad agreement.

So where could A-Rod end up? What would be an ideal situation for a player of his ability?

The Mets and Angels have been mentioned as potential destinations, but there's no way Steinbrenner would give his local rivals a chance to have A-Rod return to his old form with the Mets. That goes triple for the Red Sox. The Angels are a playoff contender without A-Rod, and adding him to the roster might be enough to allow them to beat the Yankees in postseason play.

Any team that acquires A-Rod will be on the hook for four years and $64 million, as the Rangers are paying $10 million a year of his record-setting contract. In today's economic climate, $16 million a season for an elite player in his prime years isn't unbearable.

With control over his destiny, A-Rod would veto any deals to the Devil Rays, Royals, Pirates and other perennial losers. Even if a second-rate team was willing to take on his salary (unlikely), they are too far from contention to expect one player alone to take them to the postseason.

How about a team in a less intense media market that is within striking distance of the playoffs or World Series? Let's start with the National League, since that would be a logical preemptive postseason damage control move for the Yankees.

Keep in mind that A-Rod moved to third base to accommodate Derek Jeter, and he could easily move back to his old position. Since his trade value is uncertain at this time, any speculation as to who would be swapped for him will be minimal for now.

The Astros have dumped piles of salary obligations (Roger Clemens, Jeff Bagwell, Andy Pettitte) since the end of the season. This is a team in desperate need of offense, and Minute Maid Park is an ideal place for A-Rod to put up some big numbers.

While the Astros have had decent attendance, they would benefit at the box office by adding A-Rod, who would pair with Lance Berkman for a deadly 1-2 combo. This move makes a ton of sense if A-Rod is O.K. with Houston, but he may have soured on Texas after three years with the Rangers.

How about a small-market long shot? The Reds made a modest run at the postseason in 2006, and A-Rod would put Cincinnati in position for a serious shot at the NL Central title.

Rodriguez becomes a shortstop again with the Reds, and he could help fill plenty of empty seats that would make a $16 million/year salary bearable. The hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark would provide an ideal stage for A-Rod's slugging skills, and this would provide a revival of interest in a historically strong baseball town.

A look at the Reds roster shows few players who might be of interest to the Yankees since Bronson Arroyo isn't going anywhere, so this is an unlikely move. That's especially true with Ken Griffey Jr. (not a close pal of A-Rod's) around. Even if the former Mariners set their differences aside, it would probably take a three-way trade for the Reds to pull this off.

Two other NL teams would be darkhorses in the chase for A-Rod. With Jimmy Rollins on the roster and a gaping hole at third, the Phillies probably wouldn't be willing to move A-Rod back to his old position. Rodriguez and Ryan Howard back-to-back in the same lineup would give opposing pitchers plenty of nightmares. After three years in New York, A-Rod's skin should be thick enough to deal with the Philadelphia boo-birds.

Combined with Scott Rolen at 3B, David Eckstein moving across the infield to 2B and Albert Pujols at 1B, A-Rod would give the Cardinals one of the best infields in baseball history. There are three obstacles to such a scenario.

Having Rodriguez, Pujols and Rolen in the 3-4-5 slots means no left-handed hitters in those key places in the batting order. Adding A-Rod's salary gives the Cardinals zero revenue gain, since new Busch Stadium sold out before the season this year, and things should be similar in 2007. There are few quality players among the outfielders and pitchers to offer in a deal.

If the Cardinals prefer A-Rod to Rolen, it creates a possible swap. There are far worse options for A-Rod than going from the Bronx Zoo to friendly, baseball-crazy St. Louis.

Turning back to the American League, three teams might help themselves with A-Rod.

Is it time for the conservative Twins to think big? Brad Radke's $9 million salary is gone, as is Shannon Stewart's $6 million contract. Hefty raises for Joe Mauer, Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau will gobble up a big chunk of that $15 million, but trading for A-Rod may also solve another looming problem.

Torii Hunter's $12 million option was picked up by the Twins, but the spectacular centerfielder becomes a free agent after next season. If the Twins swap Hunter for A-Rod, it's a $4 million net increase in salary, and the trade should boost ticket sales. After New York, the congenial environment of the Twin Cities might be a welcome change for A-Rod.

That moves Johnny Damon to left or out of New York altogether, but that's not for the Twins to worry about. The White Sox can make a deal work if A-Rod plays short and they can dump a high salary (probably a starting pitcher to make room for Brandon McCarthy in the rotation) on the Yankees. After a disappointing season, the Sox could use a big move to keep the momentum going in their never-ending rivalry with the Cubs.

How about a gutsy Billy Beane/Moneyball deal? Free agent Barry Zito's contract is off the books, and putting Eric Chavez (a lefty swinger who would do well at Yankee Stadium) in an A-Rod trade keeps the salary hit manageable for the A's. Rodriguez could play at either spot on the left side of the infield in Oakland.

My prediction? Torre and Steinbrenner say A-Rod will be a Yankee in 2007, but don't be shocked if a trade takes place.


What about the NL West teams?

Dodgers seems make much more sense than any of the other NL teams... at least they actually have a prospect package to throw around... the D-backs have it too. but I kinda doubt they are willing to pull it, and they are pretty set on the field anyway.

Angels makes sense, except that the prospect of getting owned by A-rod in the post season and regular season is too scary.

My take, they'll listen to offers, but won't pull the trigger without a Liriano / Nathan /Bonser like package comming around...

How about a return to Seattle?

The M's need a big bat. The M's are improving, and an addition like him could get them close to contention.

The M's would have to move either Beltre or one of Betancourt/Lopez to accomodate him. And they may not be the best match in terms of trade candidates. It would probably take a 3-way deal to work out.

But Seattle is a super mellow environment. The fans don't like him now, but they tend to be forgiving. And everyone knows that A-Rod can succeed in Safeco field.

You can't have this conversation without mentioning the Padres... The Padres have a serious void at 3B and movable and somewhat disappointing (not to mention oft-injured) player, Khalil Greene, at SS (if A-Rod wants to go back). SERIOUS money coming off the books ($25+ - closer to 30 assuming Woody and Piazza go elsewhere). Not to mention with starting pitchers Peavy, Young, and Hensley, bullpen arms like Meredith and Linebrink, as well solid prospects at Yankee need positions (Carrillo, Hundley, etc.). Then throw in the facts that San Diego has won 2 consecutive NL West Championoships (not a down-trodden team), A-Rod would again be, "The Man," A-Rod love the water and yachting and Petco is 2-3 blocks from one of San Diego's many marinas. If A-Rod does go on the market, San Diego WILL be players.

I agree that the Padres would be very interested in A-Rod's services, either at SS or 3B.

San Diego is a laid back place - just what Dr. A-Rod ordered!

I must disagree with Al's assertion that Torre inserting Alex in the 8th spot was a panic move. IMO, it was an intelligent move based on Alex's complete inability to accomplish anything. He has 1 RBI in his last 13 postseason games is 0-15 with RISP. Torre's "I'm just trying to win a game" statement was 100% true.

I think/hope Alex will be traded because he's become almost a T.O. like figure in the clubhouse. Not because he's devisive, but because everything becomes about him. There's always something new. Torre made two interesting comments in a radio interview yesterday. First he said he never had to spend so much time being concerned about the issues of ONE player before. Secondly, he says it's very unfair for me to have to spend more time dealing with his issues than I would for other players on the team. Cashman and Torre are joined at the hip professionally, so I think Alex is gone.

I think Cash will try to trade him to the NL, but will trade him to the Angels or another AL team if they have the best deal. A young ML ready pitcher, a top prospect, and a replacement at third base will get the trade done. By those standards, the LA teams are clearly ahead of the pack.

I don't know why you think the Angels are a bad destination to NY but Oakland and Minnesota aren't. Any of the three would give AR a good chance to face the Yanks in the playoffs.

If they traded A Rod for Torii Hunter, where do you propose they put him? You mention moving Damon to left but the Yankees already have not one but two left fielders.

If A Rod goes anywhere, it is going to be for pitching.

Here's guessing that A-Rod will only consent to a trade if can play shortstop again. Doubt the Dodgers will move Furcal to accommodate A-Rod, but the Angels would probably move Cabrera to accommodate him.

I didn't include the Padres in the A-Rod sweepstakes because Petco is a lousy hitter's park. I can't see A-Rod voiding a no-trade clause to play at a pitcher's paradise.

lol these trade offers are just so way off base its actually hysterical. Anyone who thinks the Yankees will be giving Arod away has another thing coming. Yankees will be looking for no 1 or 2 type starter along with some good young prospects. They won't be taking crap back like Adrian Beltre or Torri Hunter. Do you see any room in the Yankees outfield for Hunter? Last time I checked their outfield is full. Think before you post nonsense.

The Dodgers could get it done with Penny, Laroche and a young pitcher (Billingsley, Broxton, Elbert). I don't think they'd do it, and I don't think the Yankees would take less. If the Yankees would do with for just Penny and LaRoche and maybe a marginal prospect, then I could see the Dodgers doing it. Arod would give the Dodgers the sock to stick with Kemp, Loney and Ethier through their inevitable struggles and would give them a perfect balance of veteran, young and prime years (Furcal and Drew too) guys.

News from the north? I'm hearing that the Jays would seriously consider moving Vernon Wells in a deal for ARod. Wells is reported to be looking for a Beltran-type deal. The Jays are fairly deep in the OF and believe Rios can move to CF. ARod would become the SS and take advantage of homerdome north. What do you think?

I think A-Rod would, PETCO's LF line is much easier than Yankee Stadium's, it just has huge power allies (sp?)...

How about Hudson, Boyer, Lerew, and Devine from the Braves?

He could go back to SS and Schuerholz trades Renteria for back-of-the-rotation help.

Thusly, the 2007 ATL Braves:

2B Aybar
LF Kelly Johnson (an eternal optimist, I am)
3B Chipper
SS A-Rod
CF Andruw
1B LaRoche
C McCann
RF Francoeur

That's pretty formidable...

Alex and Melky to the chi sox for Josh Fields, Lance Broadway and Freddy Garcia. If there was ever a line up to break someone in its the Yankees, Fields bats 9th, and Broadway should be ready by mid '07 along with Hughes and Clippard. The Yankee OF is already full and under contract till 08(Abreu) and 09(Damon, Matsui) there aren't going to be enough ABs for Melky and he would need better production to warrant playing a corner OF spot with out leading off, I realize he is only 22 and that power is the last tool to develop but he�s going to be a lead off or #2 hitter for his career. Also Tabata should be ready to step in for Abreu by the time his contract expires, I�m also assuming they'll re sign Bernie and they still have Guiel.

An '08 Yankee rotation of
Matsuzaka / Zito

Is young and very formidable.

How about one plausible trading partner where the author actually acknowledges the one thing the Yankees actually might accept in trade for ARod, which is pitching?

If Arod got to continually face Mussina, Jaret Wright, and what's left of Randy Johnson in the playoffs I imagine we wouldn't be discussing his "struggles".

I don't want to sound snarky, but c'mon. Do you believe in ANY scenario the Yankees would actually trade Arod for Torii "Freakin" Hunter and some other spare parts? This type of logic even got Jerry excited as it made it plausible that Yankees might accept the offensive moneyhole that is Beltre in some deal for ARod.

I pray they don't trade him. If he does go, and I think it is an extraordinary long shot, that the only destination(s) is one of the two teams in LA/Anaheim. Both have the salary, players and prospects (pitching), and even the environment and fairly successful playoff teams that Arod could find acceptable to potentially wave his no trade clause.

I think the twins scenario is unlikely, but remember that the twins have some of the best young pitching prospects in baseball. A straight Torii (who, while not the best offensive player is certainly far from "crap") for A-Rod is probably not very appealing for the Yankees (who do get out of a long term deal with an unfavorable player, though). I can see them trying to get some arms from the Twins in exchange for A-Rod. The twins don't like to move their pitchers though, so I think, in the end, the Twins won't cough up the money or talent that an A-Rod trade would inevitably cost.

Hello? Again the Yankees have no need for an outfielder! The Yankees have Matsui, Damon, Abreu and Melky waiting in the wings. Please stop this Torii Hunter nonsense. They are not taking Hunter in any kind of scenario for an MVP caliber player! This is just laughable.

If I were the Yankees this is what I would want for Arod

Dodgers: Martin, LaRoche, Billingsley or Broxton, LaRoche, Billingsley. Nothing less than that.

Angels: Santana, Wood, Shields