What would A-Rod be worth on the open market?

Alex Trautwig

In which we break down dollars and centaurs.

Alex Rodriguez isn't getting traded. Back when he was getting booed and pinch-hit for in the ALCS, there was some talk about how it might be A-Rod's last stand in a Yankees uniform. But that was ridiculous. Here, read what Brian Cashman has to say about it:

"I’m reiterating: We’re not trading Alex Rodriguez. He’s got a full no-trade (clause). I have talked to every team in baseball. I have not offered Alex in any trade. You’ll be able to confirm that with everybody if you want."

Every team in baseball.

Brian Cashman: Hey, there, Jeff. I was wondering if you'd be interested in Alex Rodriguez …

Jeff Luhnow: /click

Cashman: DOING A STAND-UP TO CANCER COMMERCIAL WITH JOSE ALTUVE. Man. I guess you like cancer, you jerk. Let me finish.

Cashman: /dials

Cashman: Jon! Buddy, it's Brian. Listen, I was thinking about Alex Rodriguez, and …

Jon Daniels: /click

Cashman: HOW WE'RE NOT TRADING HIM THIS OFFSEASON. Manners, people. Manners.

It probably went something just like that. Or, no one even brought it up on either side because it's obviously ridiculous. The Yankees would have to pay another team to make Rodriguez go away, and the Yankees don't exactly have Mike Olt in the minors. A limited A-Rod is still useful to the Yankees. More than the chance to save a few million over the next five years, at least. So it's pointless to conjure up mock trades that include Alex Rodriguez.

But that doesn't mean we can't do a little thought exercise. It doesn't have to be about trading A-Rod. It's just a hypothetical about the value of him on the open market. To wit:

What kind of contract would Alex Rodriguez get if he were a free agent today?

You can also read that question, if you're not buying Cashman's denial, as "How much money would the Yankees have to eat?" Whatever helps you sleep at night. But let's look at the particulars of Alex Rodriguez, the player, rather than Alex Rodriguez, the human word-association game who is almost impossible to evaluate without a significant amount of bias.

  • One of the best players in history
  • Not one of the best players now
  • Still good, with OPS+ of 119 and 112 in the last two seasons (3.7 and 2.0 WAR, respectively)
  • 37 years old
  • A realistic, if improbable, chance at 763 home runs
  • Recent history of injuries, nicks, dings, and dents

It's a fascinating cocktail. I doubt that his chase for Bonds would mean much to a team, seeing as few people outside of San Francisco care about that record these days. It wouldn't sell a lot of t-shirts, in other words. He would be something of a draw, but that wouldn't be the reason to get him.

No, the money he would get from another team if he were a free agent would be based on how he would hit. I think everyone would agree that the 30-homer guy from three years ago is gone. So a team would be paying for the guy from the last two years, weighing the possibility of something more against the probability of him breaking down or stinking. It would be an interesting front-office discussion to listen in on.

Dan Szymborski, of forecasting fame, wrote an article for ESPN about the future of A-Rod:

2013: .256/.339/.425, 16 (HR)
2014: .251/.328/.405, 13 (HR)
2015: .249/.317/.393, 11 (HR)

It gets worse after that, but I'll pick the next three years because that's the most a team would give him on the open market, and that's in an extremely implausible scenario.

Those, uh, projections aren't very good.

Expecting Rodriguez to hit like that is like expecting something between Vinny Castilla's year with the Nationals and Casey Blake's last couple of seasons with the Dodgers, which is about as exciting as it sounds.

But this is a big name, a big star. Kind of. Rodriguez would probably get a two-year deal on the open market, just in case there's still a little of that old talent in there, as if he were a toner cartridge that you can shake for one last desperate attempt.

I'll guess two years, $12 million. Maybe a little more. Maybe a lot more. The A.J. Burnett deal surprised me, in that the Pirates took on a healthy chunk of salary, but this is a much different scenario. I think that price includes the marquee value of Rodriguez already.

So if you want to extrapolate, that would mean the Yankees would need to eat $102 million over the next five years, and the point would be to a) save $2.4 million a year and b) find a new third baseman. Nope.

Cashman said no team even inquired about Rodriguez’s availability Wednesday as the industry gathered at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa.

Nope. But this probably isn't the last A-Rod trade article you'll ever read. I don't know why you keep doing this to yourself.

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