Alex Rodriguez isn’t the forgotten man on the Yankees.
His persona is way too big for that. But he has become transparent when Joe Girardi looks down the bench and seems to call on anyone but him.
Rodriguez turns 41 Wednesday. His homered on his 40th birthday last season, his first year back from a year-long suspension as the result of Major League Baseball’s Biogenesis investigation into performance-enhancing drugs. He hit 33 for the season with 86 RBIs.
Unless Girardi is sentimental, there is no guarantee Rodriguez will even get an at-bat on this birthday as switch hitter Carlos Beltran has essentially become the everyday designated hitter.
Rodriguez is hitting .206 with nine home runs and 29 runs batted in. This month, he is at .129 with one homer and two RBIs. He has 696 career home runs, but it now seems like a longshot that he will reach 700 this season. And there’s the possibility that he may not be on the Yankees’ roster in 2017.
Rodriguez seems to be making the best of it, not complaining publicly and fully expecting to finish out his contract in New York in any role the team determines. He is due $21 million next year in the last season of his 10-year, $275 million contract.
General manager Brian Cashman was asked Monday if he could foresee Rodriguez remaining in his marginal role for the remainder of his deal. A person familiar with Rodriguez’s thinking has said the player will not ask out of his contract.
Cashman knew the question was referring to a buyout or settlement. “Obviously, we always have decisions that we can choose to make,”’ he said during a conference call on the trade of Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs. “We always have a direction if we want to go, which you are alluding to, but that’s something that is not being considered right now.’’
Cashman reiterated that point Tuesday morning on WFAN’s “Boomer and Carton” show, saying that it’s not something being talked about right now.
Cashman also spoke on Monday’s call about Mark Teixeira, who is in the final season of his eight-year contract for $180 million. He is batting .184 with has nine home runs and 23 RBIs. Last season, he hit 31 homers and drove in 86 runs. If Teixeira had a good year, the Yankees would have considered bringing him back on a one-year deal to mentor Greg Bird, who is expected to take over first base in 2017. It is now highly doubtful Teixeira would even receive a qualifying offer.
Cashman drew a parallel between Teixeira and and Rodriguez.
“Just touching on some of the club’s limitations this year that was unexpected, we were expecting and hoping for 60 home runs and 200 RBIs between Alex and Tex hasn’t worked out,” Cashman said.
Ted Williams and Raul Ibanez each hit 29 homers in the season they turned 41, sharing the major league record for homers at that age.
“He’s grinding through it and why? Because he’s trying to do everything he can to help us win games and earn his salary to the best of his ability despite fighting through pain,” Cashman said of Teixeira. “He knows right now he’s the best first baseman that we have and so he’s doing everything he possibly can for our fans, for his teammates, for our staff.
“And Alex is doing the same thing. It hasn’t played out to certainly what we expected in 2016 but all I can tell you is they’re professionals they’re doing everything in their power to put themselves in the position to be successful. We’re all hoping that better games and days are ahead involving them. It doesn’t guarantee it.”
Referring specifically to Rodriguez, Cashman said, “Obviously, what you’re alluding to is always something that can be discussed down the line if we so choose that’s the case, but that’s not something we’re focused on right now.’’
MLB All-Time Home Run Leaders
1. Barry Bonds, 762
2. Hank Aaron, 755
3. Babe Ruth, 714
4. Alex Rodriguez, 696
5. Willie Mays, 660
6. Ken Griffey Jr., 630
7. Jim Thome, 612
8. Sammy Sosa, 609
9. Frank Robinson, 586
10. Mark McGwire, 583