Is A-Rod a goner?
There was no immediate answer to that question at 8 p.m. Saturday night when the Yankees sent out a release announcing an 11 a.m. news conference Sunday that will include Alex Rodriguez, general manager Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi.
Both the franchise and the player maintained radio silence on the nature of the news conference deep into the night.
The end of Rodriguez’s Yankees career has been the subject of speculation much of this season. It reached a fever pitch after the trade deadline when the Yankees, in an effort to infuse their franchise with much-needed youth and athleticism, dealt Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Carlos Beltran for highly regarded prospects.
Well before that, the struggling A-Rod, stuck on 696 home runs since July 18, was reduced to a platoon DH, but even those at-bats have all but disappeared.
Rodriguez — who is owed about $27 million between now and the end of 2017, when his 10-year contract expires — has a .204/.252/.356 slash line, nine homers and 29 RBIs in 62 games this season. He has 234 plate appearances, only seven since July 29, with four of those coming in his last start on July 30.
Choosing to retire would seem unlikely, as that would mean that A-Rod — whose major-league career began in 1994 — would forfeit what he’s owed on his contract.
But some kind of arrangement in which both the Yankees and A-Rod come out looking good — such as the agreement struck in July 2015 to make a donation to various charities, which ended the dispute over the $6-million milestone payment owed for tying Willie Mays with career homer No. 660 — can’t be ruled out.
Since returning from his season-long suspension in 2014 for his involvement with PEDs and the Biogenesis scandal, A-Rod, who publicly warred with the Yankees and MLB leading up to that suspension, has been a member in good standing with both entities.
He struck all the right notes in spring training of 2015 and throughout a resurgent season in which he led the Yankees with 33 home runs.
The choice of releasing Rodriguez, 41, and eating the remainder of his contract is solely up to managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, who spent considerable time in meetings with Girardi and Cashman this past week when he was in New York. Cashman indicated as recently as Wednesday that Steinbrenner was not inclined to make that move. But it’s worth remembering that in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline, the owner resisted calls from his baseball operations department for a mass sell-off. He, of course, eventually relented.
Rodriguez last spoke to the media Tuesday before the first game of the Subway Series, a four-game set between Citi Field and the Stadium in which he had all of one at-bat, a meaningless pinch-hitting appearance in the second game.
“Whatever they do, I’m at peace,” Rodriguez said Tuesday. “I’m fine with everything. Of course, I would love to play. I love to play. That’s what I do, right? But I haven’t been very good. That’s on me . . . Look, I’ve had a long career. I’ve been through a lot. I’m happy to be a Yankee. I love New York. I think I have a lot to contribute still. But you have to be realistic . . . I know that the organization has a brighter future today than it did last week. And hopefully I’m part of that equation. But if I’m not, I can accept it, very clearly.”