Today it has been reported that New York Yankees’ third baseman Alex Rodriguez will have his record suspension reduced from 211 games to 162.
On the surface it may seem that this is a victory for Rodriguez, the 49 games knocked off of his sentence equates to a lot of money for the 38 year old slugger, but the real winner of this suspension is the Yankees themselves. The Yanks have been trying to get their payroll under the $189 million luxury tax threshold and having Rodriguez’ tremendous contract off of the books this entire season will free up $27.5 million and give them a legitimate chance to do just that. Achieving that goal will save the Yankees a huge sum of money both now and in the long term.
The franchise will also benefit from a year without having to answer questions about the former MVP. Rodriguez has been a lightning rod for tabloid fodder over recent years, and his production has not been matching up to the headaches he has given Brian Cashman and the rest of the organization. Rodriguez has not batted .300 since 2008 and hasn’t driven in 100 runs or hit 30 homers since 2010, things that he was doing routinely when he was in his prime. Rodriguez will certainly still make headlines in the City even while he’s not donning the pinstripes all summer long, but because he will be separate from the team I don’t think it will be the clubhouse distraction it has been in recent years.
Possibly the biggest benefit of this news is timing. This decision was lobbied early enough in the off-season that the Yankees can still go out and acquire a low cost replacement for A-rod, and, more importantly, can put out a very competitive offer for Japanese pitching star Masahiro Tanaka, without worrying about the payroll now that Rodriguez’s albatross of a contract is off the books this season.
I’m not surprised that A-Rod’s suspension was reduced, I am surprised at how little it was reduced. I assumed that he would ultimately receive between a 65-95 games, for him to be suspended for the whole season seems a bit harsh to me, but I know that somewhere every member of Yankees upper management is quietly, and secretly, smiling ear to ear.