Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Yankees can’t distance themselves from A-Rod no matter how hard they try

The New York Yankees made the proverbial bed when they agreed to a 10-year, $275 million contract with Alex Rodriguez. They hopped right into the sack with A-Rod when they added a separate milestone contract to the mix, believing they would cash in on his pursuit of Major League Baseball’s career home run crown.

Admissions of performance-enhancing drug use and a full-year suspension for Rodriguez's part in the Biogenesis scandal have doused any relationship the Yankees want to have with the former slugger.

Problem is, the Yankees are tied to him contractually and will never be able to remove him from their history. He’s played with two other teams, but it’s the Yankees who he is associated with and that sends ownership’s blood pressure sky high.

The Yankees wanted to break their player contract with Rodriguez and they couldn’t. A-Rod has tried to make peace in the last week and the Yanks refused to sit down with him. Now, the club wants to void the milestone contract that would pay him $6 million for tying Willie Mays (660 homers), Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds (762) and then breaking Bonds’ record. That’s $30 million if he can hit 109 more home runs. In reality, it seems that Mays’ mark is the only one Rodriguez can reach. But, his performance is another story.

What’s at issue here is the Yankees desperate attempt to distance themselves from Rodriguez; no matter how hard they try he’s unshakable. The Yanks made it clear that Rodriguez would not be the starting third baseman by signing Chase Headley, and Rodriguez took it as a challenge.

Club officials have stated at various times that they have no idea what to expect from A-Rod on the field in 2015, but they do know in their heads that he creates a circus environment. Unfortunately, the Yanks are not helping that atmosphere dissipate by failing to suck up to their contractual mistakes. Picking a fight on the milestone contract and getting into a tussle with the Major League Baseball Players Association is not worth it.

The MLBPA has publicly vowed to fight for Rodriguez if the Yankees seek to void the contract. MLBPA’s stance is that A-Rod has paid the price for his PED suspension. However, the Yankees claim that they can no longer market Rodriguez as a home run hero when he ties these marks because of the Biogenesis scandal and Rodriguez’s admission of PED use before signing the contract. A battle between the MLBPA and the Yankees would be a difficult one for the team to win.

The Yankees might think about taking the high road here. They should pay Rodriguez the bonuses as they come and bring no further attention to it. Does it make the team look bad? It might in some eyes, but they've been made to look like fools for the contracts for some time now. Further, there is nothing in the contract that says they have to hold marketing campaigns to celebrate the milestones. That’s what the Yankees wanted to do, but simply cannot now.

The Yankees throw money away all of the time. While it's easy to see their argument, it’s time the Yanks understood that the cash left on Rodriguez’s player contract and the milestone contract is something they’ll have to honor. The Yankees must turn the page and look at Rodriguez as a bad investment, one which was inevitable even if he never took performance-enhancing drugs.

Like it or not the Yankees gambled on the absolute wrong player. Alex Rodriguez will be linked to the Yankees forever – no matter how hard they try to wipe him from the scroll.

Photo of Alex Rodriguez courtesy of Keith Allison via Flickr.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer and sports media strategist. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.