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After the Yankees benched Alex Rodriguez yet again en route to a four-game sweep at the hands of the Detroit Tigers, trade speculation went rampant. First, there was a Keith Olbermann report that the Miami Marlins and Yankees were already talking about a possible trade. Then, today a report surfaced from USA Today's Bob Nightengale stating that Rodriguez just might be willing to approve a trade should the Yankees approach him. With a gaping hole for a third baseman, many responded with, "How about Alex Rodriguez to the Phillies?"
One such response came from our reader and friend Paul Lindsey. Here is what he had to say on Facebook:
If the Yankees are truly interested in trading A-Rod, and eating a good portion of his salary, it might not be a bad a bad idea for the Phillies to look into this option... We need a third baseman, and there's no better option. I know it's risky, but I think he could help this team.
First, let's look at the "if" part of this. Would the Yankees ever trade Alex Rodriguez?
I would not rule it out. However, the contract - the largest in Major League Baseball history - is what would make it unlikely. Rodriguez is 37 and has five more years on his contract that will take him to age 42. The contract was indeed front-leaded, but he is still owed $114 million over the next five years. Would they like to trade that contract? Absolutely! Of course, no team will want to take that on. So, the question is, what would the Yankees be willing to eat of that salary to make another team take it.
The question starts with what type of production Rodriguez can give a team at his age. In 122 games, Rodriguez hit 18 home runs and drove in 57 runs. How much did that production cost in 2012? Here are a few comparables:
Carlos Gomez, Brewers: 19 HR, 51 RBI, $1.9625 million
Justin Maxwell, Astros: 18 HR, 53 RBI, $480,000
Danny Espinosa, Nationals: 17 HR, 56 RBI, $506,000
Michael Cuddyer, Rockies: 16 HR, 58 RBI, $10.5 million
Lucas Duda, Mets: 15 HR, 56 RBI, $500,000
What did Alex Rodriguez earn for this type of output? $29 million. Granted, the above salaries are all not equal; only one of them could play third base (though not well). So let's say that the Yankees were willing to pay $64 million of the remaining $114 million. Would that be worth it for the Phillies to even take on $10 million a year?
$10 million a year could probably buy the Phillies one year of Kevin Youkilis. Despite a tumultuous first half with Bobby Valentine and the Red Sox, Youkilis headed to the Chicago White Sox and hit 19 home runs and drove in 60 runs for the year. Four years younger than Rodriguez, Youkilis could rebuild his value with a strong year. The Phillies could get the same production Rodriguez would probably give them for a player four years youngerwith no long-term commitment.
Here is my best thought, and one that I think would make the most sense for the Phillies. It's another inexpensive free agent option who happens to be Rodriguez's 2012 backup: Eric Chavez. Chavez hit .281 with 16 home runs and 37 RBI as a part-time player with almost 200 fewer at-bats than Rodriguez. Chavez could be cheap. He made $900,000 this season. He is a left-handed hitter. Kevin Frandsen is a right-handed hitter. Combined the two hit 18 home runs and drove in 51 runs in a total of 473 at bats, less than a full-time player would play.
Could a combined Frandsen and Chavez hit 20 home runs and drive in 60 runs? It is possible. It is just as possible that this type of offensive output is all Rodriguez is good for right now. A trade for Rodriguez means a five-year commitment. Saving some money at third base would help the Phillies put a new starter in center field and in left field, and give the Phillies a veteran set-up man.
Alex Rodriguez was sure an intriguing name... in 2001. Today, it makes little sense for the Phillies. The Yankees will have to live with their decision to give him 10 years at age 32.