Buck Showalter has noticed the same thing many of you have noticed: If Alex Rodriguez is suspended without pay, the Yankees will be the lucky ones. A bad contract will come off the books for as long as Rodriguez is punished, and in an interview with USA Today, Showalter vented some frustration about that.
Of course, I’m not sure what the alternative should be. Yes, the Yankees will catch a financial break if/when Rodriguez is suspended. But lucky breaks come in all forms to all teams in all sorts of ways. Here’s the USA Today story in which Showalter suggests the Rodriguez suspension could open the door to Matt Wieters landing in the Bronx.
Also, don’t forget about the chat at 3 p.m.
Forget the money and drugs — it’s competitive balance that has Showalter steamed.
Showalter, who managed Rodriguez in Texas, says he has no interest in discussing the suspension possibilities surrounding the Yankees third baseman, but he’s taking aim on how the Yankees could benefit.
Getting Rodriguez’s $25 million salary off their 2014 books would effectively re-set a Yankees payroll projected to exceed a $189 million luxury tax threshold the club hoped to slip under. And if they’re freed from the $86 million owed Rodriguez from 2014-2017? Showalter fears Commissioner Bud Selig’s zeal to ban Rodriguez may turn the Yankees into free-agent predators again.
“If Bud lets them get away with that, they’re under the luxury tax,” Showalter told USA TODAY Sports. “If they can reset, they can spend again and I guarantee you in two years Matt Wieters is in New York.”
Wieters, the Orioles catcher, would be eligible for free agency after the 2015 season, though it’s likely the Orioles would attempt to sign the 27-year-old to an extension in the meantime.
But a Yankees ledger freed of any A-Rod commitments would alter the market for many players.
Selig might want to come down hard on Rodriguez as part of the Biogenesis investigation, but has no choice in the luxury tax issue because the rule is part of the labor agreement.
According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the portion of a player’s salary that he does not collect while suspended also does not count toward his team’s payroll and the luxury tax threshold.
Rodriguez is to be paid $25 million in 2014. Subtract that — even the $15 million were he to be suspended 100 games — and the Yankees not only would have a better chance of staying under $189 million, but also might be able to afford to add players.
In 2007, coming off a 52-homer season that netted him a third AL MVP award, Rodriguez opted out of a 10-year, $252 million contract originally signed with the Texas Rangers. The Yankees nonetheless re-upped Rodriguez for 10 years and $275 million shortly thereafter.
Rodriguez’s decline began almost immediately. He needed hip surgery after the 2008 season, but rebounded to play a key role in the Yankees’ run to the 2009 World Series title.
But Rodriguez’s on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) declined every season after 2007. A second hip surgery in January ensured he’d miss the first half of this season; the Biogenesis flap that broke weeks later put him in MLB’s firing line.
Now, it may give his team a get-out-of-jail-free card.
“They’re the ones who signed him to that contract,” Showalter said of the Yankees.
Associated Press photo