Alex Rodriguez’ stock in New York seems to have hit rock bottom. The controversial superstar has now found himself out of the Yankees starting lineup two nights in a row in the middle of the postseason after he went 3-for-23 without an extra-base hit in the first six games of the postseason. This plays right into the
ridiculous misguided narrative about Rodriguez’ apparent inability to perform in October, and Bombers fans are calling for his head.
With Yankees manager Joe Girardi’s decision to bench Rodriguez added to the boos raining down on him from the bleachers in the Bronx, rumor has it that New York could be shopping A-Rod as trade bait this offseason. Call me crazy, but if that’s true, Chris Antonetti and the Indians front office should do their darndest to bring him to Cleveland.
I should preface this by explaining two critical assumptions that would have to be true for such a deal to be a possibility. The first: that the Yankees have truly given up on A-Rod. (Presumably the fact that Girardi benched Rodriguez for a possible elimination game means the team has lost faith in him, but perhaps the feeling will prove fleeting.) The second: that New York would be willing to eat all (or at least, the vast majority) of the remaining $114 million on Rodriguez’ contract, plus the $30 million in bonuses he would get en route to setting the all-time home run record. I think these scenarios are plausible, but in the interest of intellectual honesty it’s worth noting that they’re not a given.
There’s one and only one reason why the Indians would want Rodriguez: He’s a good hitter. This past season was Rodriguez’ worst since the mid-90’s, yet he still hit .272 with 18 home runs, 13 stolen bases, and a near-.800 OPS. Per wRC+, he was 14 percent better than the average MLB hitter, even after adjusting for the inflationary effects of Yankee Stadium. Yes, he’s on the decline, but he’s starting his age-based drop-off from a pretty good place and he should remain an effective hitter for several years to come.
Beyond that, there’s something about Cleveland that I suspect would slow Rodriguez’ decline: the small market. Just as Terry Francona presumably saw the Indians’ managerial opening as attractive after the Boston media railroaded him out of town when he was with the Red Sox, A-Rod would probably be thrilled to come to a place where not enough fans show up for any booing to be audible. The stress of playing in front of the unforgiving Yankee “faithful” has to be exacerbating Rodriguez’ struggles, and he might flourish in the quiet of Northeast Ohio.
Finally, if my assumptions are correct, the Indians would be getting Rodriguez for almost nothing. He could hold down third base if Lonnie Chisenhall isn’t ready to assume the starting job, and once Chisenhall takes over Rodriguez can become the Tribe’s primary designated hitter while spelling Chisenhall at third against left-handed pitchers. He’s a right-handed power hitter whose presence on the roster would kill several birds with one stone. Doesn’t that sound like someone the Indians could use?
Granted, this whole premise is somewhat unrealistic. Even for the Yankees, eating close to $150 million would be a bitter pill to swallow, and if they were willing to do that the Indians wouldn’t be the only ones interested. Plus, Rodriguez has a no-trade clause and might use it to block a trade to Cleveland. But the idea that the right stars would align for a deal to be possible isn’t that crazy, and neither is the notion that Alex Rodriguez might be a fit for the Tribe.
Would Alex Rodriguez be a fit for the Indians?
- Yes (45%, 34 Votes)
- Are you crazy? (45%, 34 Votes)
- No (9%, 7 Votes)
Total Voters: 75