There seems to be a prevailing thinking, ok it’s just the New York Daily News, that Alex Rodriguez could potentially walk away from the New York Yankees and baseball. This notion, of course, is founded upon the news that Rodriguez has been implicated in the Miami New Times PED scandal, and the fact that baseball’s active home run leader is recovering from his second major hip surgery.
Alex Rodriguez will not be walking away from baseball, no matter how much some would like to see him do so. As the Daily News piece from Bill Madden, Christian Red, and Teri Thompson so blindly surmises, Rodriguez has but two options going forward:
(1) A-Rod being forced to retire because of the injury, enabling the Yankees to collect 85% of the insurance on the contract, which would leave him with a paid-up deal that comes off the Yankee books and subsequently lessens their luxury-tax burden.
(2) Rodriguez completes the rehab but continues to play in a diminished role, is unhappy with his level of play and decides to voluntarily retire. In that case, the Yankees would engage him in settlement talks.
Never mind that this isn’t exactly how insurance policies for athletes work (read more on insurance here), but the correct approach in this proposed scenario would be to lay low on the disabled list for the duration of the contract and collect money like a BOSS. Our trio of authors note that Albert Belle opted for this route with hip problems in 2000, although I’m not sure how they arrived at their “forced to retire” bit.
The proposed ‘voluntary retirement due to a diminished role’ thinking here is also problematic. Rodriguez is owed $114 million through 2017. Not even Latrell Sprewell would balk at that much scrilla. None of us want to be in Rodriguez’s shoes today, but if any of us were then I suspect it would be near impossible to make a decision that involved leaving $114 million on the table. Settlement my ass.
Hold on, though, for there is another scenario that could play. What if Rodriguez took the Chone Figgins approach? That is, to sit on the bench and not say a word until his services are called upon, all the while taking home far more money that he’s conceivably worth. Eventually, once a contract becomes slightly more palatable, it can be swallowed and the Yankees and Rodriguez can go their separate ways.
Call it the new American Dream. Maximum dollars for minimum effort.
This Chone Figgins scenario is not without its problems either. There exists a possibility that Rodriguez has a successful rehab and returns to baseball (maybe he’s suspended, maybe he’s not) and manages to be a productive player for another couple of years. He’ll be overpaid, but not a lost cause entirely.
I suppose then that my Chone Figgins route would read like a rather inane suggested scenario. Well, it wouldn’t sound quite as senseless as leaving $114 million on the table.