We now know what the most covered, discussed and debated offseason baseball story will be: the future of Alex Rodriguez. Been there, done that, right? The de-emphasis of A-Rod in the postseason, along with his gotcha moment of hustling two women in the stands during a playoff game (alluded to in the instant-classic New York Post cover from today), makes it likely that the Yankees will do everything they can to dump Rodriguez this offseason.
Oh, yeah, there’s the small matter of the $114 million he’s owed over the next five years. A-Rod said yesterday he plans to be back in New York, and that he would execute his full no-trade rights (as a 10-and-5 player) to make sure of it. But that’s not going to stop the speculation that the Yankees will be peddling Rodriguez all winter. There’s already been reports (denied by the Yankees) that the’ve had preliminary discussions about with the Marlins, his hometown team. What’s clear is that to deal Rodriguez, the Yankees would have to eat a huge portion of his remaining contract, meaning that it would not cripple teams financially to bring Rodriguez aboard.
Much to my surprise, I’ve already received several e-mails and tweets wondering if the Mariners would have interest in bringing back Rodriguez if the Yankees picked up most of the tab. So let’s put this to rest right now: It’s not going to happen. No way, no how. It’s not that I think Rodriguez is washed up, either. He’s just 37, and he didn’t have as bad a 2012 season as you might think — especially considering it was disrupted in the middle by a broken hand from a Felix Hernandez pitch. I still think Rodriguez has some life left in his bat, and he can still help a team. It’s just not going to be here.
First, let’s look at it from A-Rod’s perspective. He’s been the subject of scathing vitriol at Safeco Field for more than a decade now. There has not been a series at Safeco Field involving Rodriguez — whether he be with the Rangers or Yankees — since 2001 in which fans didn’t send play money fluttering out of the stands, or greet him with lusty booing. He’s been pretty much Public Enemy No. 1 when it comes to Mariner fans. Is he really going to walk freely back into that situation? No he’s not. And even if you eliminate the acrimony angle, A-Rod is too much of a big-city, bright-lights guy now to be content with returning to such a low-key market, away from the spotlight (even though that’s probably exactly the kind of place he needs to go. But that’s another story). Remember, Rodriguez has complete control over where he ends up. Never mind the nostalgia angle; Seattle is a non-starter.
From the Mariners standpoint, I think it’s safe to say Rodriguez burned bridges to a greater extent than Ken Griffey Jr., who was indeed brought back to the organization in the twilight of his career, and Randy Johnson, who has mended fences and was welcomed into the team’s Hall of Fame last year. Just read this comment from CEO Howard Lincoln in the Seattle Times in 2004, concerning a rumor that the Mariners were interested in bringing back Griffey:
Asked about his feelings toward the former center fielder, the most important player ever to wear a Seattle uniform, Lincoln refers to a radio interview he gave last month.
“I can’t express my feelings about Kenny any better than I did then,” Lincoln said. “I was asked what I thought of Junior and Alex Rodriguez. I said, ” ‘I consider Alex a great baseball player, and I consider Kenny a great player and a great human being.’
“Let me put it this way: If I was stranded on a deserted island and I had to pick one or the other to be with me there, I would pick Kenny without any hesitation.”
Yes, that was eight years ago, and time heals all wounds. But I wouldn’t waste any amount of time contemplating a possible role for A-Rod in Seattle. Consider this a pre-emptive strike: No.