February 14, 2014

A-Rod 2015: A silver lining for post-Jeter Yankees?

With Derek Jeter's announcment that he's retiring after 2014, it leads me to wonder about the future of one Alex Rodriguez with the Yankees.

His dropping of his suits against MLB and the players' union is a sign that he's pulled in his horns a little bit, at least.

And, if he stays in good condition, and keeps his baseball skills reasonably sharp, he could still be a plus player in 2015, even if not worth more than $20 million.

But, at what position? Does he stay at third, or move back to SS? Some of you laugh, but hold on.

MLB Trade Rumors' tentative list of 2015 free agents indicate there's flexibility for the Yankees.
Asdrubal Cabrera and Hanley Ramirez top the SS availables, followed distantly by Jimmy Rollins, who also has a 2015 vesting option he's likely to hit. Pablo Sandoval, Alberto Callaspo, and Chase Headley are arguably the three best at third. With Callaspo and Headley in smaller market situations, they're most likely to be available at third. At short, the Dodgers will surely do all they can to resign Ramirez, and the Giants are likely to do the same for Sandoval. That leaves Cabrera.

If I'm the Yankees, I see Headley as the No. 1 option, with a toss-up between Callaspo and Cabrera as No. 2. That means the Yankees' better options are at third, if they think A-Rod can move back to short.

Yes, that's an if, with that balky hip. But, in either position, the Yankees would probably spot him at least 20 games at DH. And, it's not like this would make a 2015 Yankee infield suck any more defensively than the 2014 one is sure to do, with that five-time Gold Glover at short.

Or, if Stephen Drew winds up doing a one-year "pillow" back in Boston, you know the Yankees will eyeball him.

There will be other options at both positions, so this is nothing locked in stone. I don't expect those options to come from a thin farm system, or from a trade with thin prospects to offer back to another team.

Also, assuming the Yankees can't keep too specific of direct contact with A-Rod, will he think ahead on this issue?

Another option is DH. The Yankees could let Alfonso Soriano walk, also let Brett Gardner walk and keep Carlos Beltran in the OF, and put A-Rod at DH. Or, if Mark Teixeira spits the bit, they can trade him a year from now and keep either Soriano or Gardner if the price is right.

Meanwhile, there's second base, too. Ben Zobrist is very possible, given he's a Rays player not likely to be resigned, to replace what will surely be this year's godawful duo of Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts.

Anyway, looking a year ahead, it's clear the Yankees will have at least as many moving parts as this year, and, a theoretically contrite, possibly rested and healthy A-Rod may be an important cog.

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