As the Miami Marlins remain in a state of dormancy awaiting Jeffrey Loria’s decision on staff changes, former ESPN and MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann on his MLBlog “Baseball Nerd” which is affiliated with MLB, delivered a jolt to the fan bases and media outlets alike, reporting on trade discussions between the Marlins and Yankees centered around highly publicized third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
While Yankees general manager Brian Cashman flatly denied such rumors saying, “I’ve had no discussions whatsoever with the Florida Marlins,” well of course you haven’t, they don’t exist anymore. Wallace Matthews and Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com report Yankees team president Randy Levine and Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria have had conversations relating to moving A-Rod to Miami.
In the report, the conversation between Loria and Levine was strictly meant mostly for laughs and giggles, if you will between two gentlemen. In it Loria told Levine, “Alex is Mr. Miami, it would be great if he played here for us.” Levine then responded, “You can have him.”
Alex Rodriguez has been abysmal in the playoffs as have the rest of the Yankees high-profile lineup and manager Joe Girardi has taken the initiative of benching the 37 year old slugger who has expressed disappointment for the move. Beyond the postseason, the Yankees are facing an uncertain future now dealing with a serious injury to their captain SS Derek Jeter (out for 4-5 months) and a roster which is growing older by the minute without getting any influx of young talent.
Rodriguez is owed $114 million through 2017, milestone home run incentives ($30 million total for 5 home runs) not withstanding, and holds a full no-trade clause, meaning he can block trades to any of the other 29 franchises. Miami would likely be acceptable to Rodriguez even as the team slumped to a last-place finish in 2012. The Marlins currently have a vacancy at the hot corner after the trade of Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers last July and the free agency market (Eric Chavez, Brandon Inge, Placido Polanco, Kevin Youkilis) offers no strong alternatives.
In Olbermann’s report, his sources, from both the Marlins and Yankees organizations state that New York would pay the grand majority of the $114 million Rodriguez is owed. A “Plan B” to the deal would revolve around embattled closer Heath Bell and 2 years, $18 million remaining being thrown into the deal to offset the total payment Yankees would have to make. For his part, Mike Berardino of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, brought up this exact scenario in his piece last week.
Could SP Ricky Nolasco (1 year, $11.5 million) and C John Buck ($6.5 million) also be included in the deal too? Anything’s possible, and with Russell Martin becoming a free agent and the Yankees always in need of rotation depth, the added pieces could make for a more balanced deal.
On the surface, the deal makes sense for both teams. The Marlins acquire a hometown guy in Rodriguez who attended Westminster Christian Prep and owns a home in the area, which he is currently trying to sell for $38 million. Meanwhile, the Yankees acquire an insurance policy to Mariano Rivera in the bullpen and an arm to fortify their bullpen, whether good or bad.
If a trade is consummated, it will have Loria’s fingerprints all over it, and the move would sort embody what the Marlins tried to do with Albert Pujols last season. While the lucrative 10-year contract to Pujols was ridiculous, the Marlins underlying reason was for marketing reasons. In A-Rod, the Marlins can bank in on A-Rod’s true Miami roots, his proximity to home run milestones (Willy May’s 660, Babe Ruth’s 714, Hank Aaron’s 755, and Barry Bonds’ 762) as being an attendance boost of some sort after a disastrous 2012 season.
Yes, A-Rod comes with controversy, he admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during his Texas Rangers days (2001-2003) and has been a lighting rod for various off the field topics. But A-Rod has a chance to repair his image a bit in a town he grew up in and a chance for him to thrive without the New York media can only help matters.
The question to ask is do the Yankees want to go through this next season, does A-Rod deep down just want a fresh new start? Do the Marlins really want to go into Spring Training with Heath Bell hanging around whining about his role, or lack thereof? Are we going to have to trot out a minor league caliber third baseman in 2013?
All this can be fixed in one simple trade. It may draw your fair share of critiques, however, stating that Rodriguez is old, past his prime, and is injury-prone. All true, anyone expecting A-Rod to blast 30-35 home runs (especially with the spacious Marlins Park) and play roughly 160 games is out of their mind. You see here Rodriguez will simply another player, a famous one, but not expected to be the MVP of this team, that job falls mostly on the shoulders of rising star slugger Giancarlo Stanton.
Surely, A-Rod wouldn’t completely fix the Marlins dismal scoring woes of 2012. The Marlins scored the second lowest total in franchise history (609), trailing only the inaugural 1993 squad and were shut out a franchise record 17 times. More work would have to be done than just making this headline grabbing trade. Rodriguez would for the most part be another piece of the puzzle and if he hits as much as Hanley Ramirez did or better last season and the dollar amount owed is substantially lower, than the price is right.