It's perfectly clear the Yankees and third baseman Alex Rodriguez aren't on the best of terms right now, but could the club really go as far as to release him?
Forbes Magazine's David Lariviere thinks it's possible, writing Saturday the Yankees' recent moves may be designed to limit Rodriguez's role on the team. Lariviere believes the re-signing of Chase Headley and trading for Garrett Jones this week will take away at-bats from the 39-year-old, who was suspended for all of last season due to steroid use.
"It makes you wonder if the Yankees really expect, or want, Rodriguez, who'll turn 40 in July, to play for them at all," Lariviere argued. "It's almost as if they are giving him a good-faith gesture in allowing him an opportunity to show he can still hit after a year-long suspension for PEDS. However, if he's hitting .220 with a homer and 10 RBI in the middle of May, the real plan is to hand him his walking papers by Memorial Day."
Rodriguez definitely doesn't appear to be the Yankees' top choice for anything as spring training grows nearer, something no doubt shown by what New York general manager Brian Cashman revealed Monday. Cashman said during an appearance on NBC New York's Sports Final "expecting the least and hoping for the most" is the approach the Yankees will take with Rodriguez in 2015, adding they also plan to use him as a DH instead of a defender.
So where does the three-time MVP fit into their future?
"If A-Rod's bat is slow and he's striking out a lot against young flamethrowers, the Yanks can say to their fans 'hey, we gave him a shot but it just didn't work out," Lariviere speculated. "The leash will not be a long one and most of their fans will not be sad to see him go."
That statement's probably true, but since Rodriguez is owed a lot of money the next three years, it's certainly possible the Yankees will still keep him. They're set to hand him $21 million next season and $20 million in 2016 and 2017, so it's not absurd to consider they may just hang onto him for the sake of making that price somewhat worth paying.
Then again, if Rodriguez struggles the way Lariviere suggests, cutting him would likely be the Yankees' only option, seeing as they're currently more interested in youngsters than veterans.