Hard to imagine any looming event messing up future plans like Rodriguez's possible suspension or return from injury are doing to the Yankees right now.
Will the suspension be 50 games? 100 games? A full season? Life-time ban?
Will the suspension start this season or next season?
Will he be healthy enough in two or three weeks to help the team?
Will he ever be healthy enough to be a productive player again?
How do you plan when up to 100 million dollars in real salary and even more in luxury tax implications is up in the air? How do you plan when just last season Rodriguez was an above average player who would replace an awful hitter, but with his hip it's uncertain whether he's better than awful now?
Not even looking at this season, with Rodriguez on the books, the Yankees have approximately 112 million in salaries for next year without signing Cano. Still to take care of:
replacing a chronically injured third baseman
finding a left fielder, second baseman or designated hitter
plus not having any veteran starters other than Sabathia
or replacing Rivera and Logan in the pen
The team does has a lot of young pitching depth and could conceivable fill out the staff with young arms and still be decent. However, no hitting prospects are close to ready to be even average major league players. The free agent market is light next season, especially at third base. Competing next year probably means splurging on Cano, Choo/Granderson, another hitter and trading young pitching for Headley or another third baseman. I'll just say I'm dubious about the feasibility and frightened of the long-term costs of pursuing such a strategy.
Still a 2014 suspension makes that a lot more possible. Just think about how a life-time ban would help!
Rodriguez's fate throws such a huge added level of uncertainty into decisions that normally are not very related to your third baseman. Rodriguez is going to be suspended for the rest of the season? Get Soriano now even if the price is a little steep. Rodriguez is going to be suspended next season? Make sure Soriano has minimal impact on next year's luxury tax accounting sheet. With Rodriguez on the books, trade Hughes because it's too risky to offer him a qualifying offer. If Rodriguez is suspended for 2014, keep Hughes and reap the draft pick.
Let's hope that this uncertainty doesn't paralyze the front office. This 2013 team is still on the edge and needs some help now.
Maybe more importantly, let's hope that MLB does intend to give a life-time ban and won't accept a plea bargain. That would guarantee that Rodriguez would appeal and have a chance to contribute this season before he sails off into a Miami sunset.