Some really believe that we have seen the last of Alex Rodriguez in professional baseball. He's currently serving his full-season suspension relatively quietly, something that I'm sure the Yankees' organization finds refreshing. It seemed like last year was a complete media circus between the Biogenesis allegations as well as A-Rod's accusations that the Yankees were purposefully trying to keep him from playing to save money. There were questions, hearings, leaked emails, and the list went on and on. It finally came to an end when he got his suspension, but with this reprieve, it still remains to be seen: will he come back?
There is still a bare minimum of $61 million left on his contract, and that doesn't include the bonuses of $6 million in endorsements he is guaranteed when he, inevitably, breaks Willie Mays' home run total, and perhaps passes the home run leaders ahead of Mays. That'd be pretty embarrassing for the organization--having to sell t-shirts, hats, and mugs of the very man who was just suspended and tried to sue you. That'd be so much fun to watch unfold, but do the Yankees really want to let that happen? The money is guaranteed no matter what, but what would be the best way to spend it?
The first option is to bite the bullet and let him play. They'd have to endure three years of $20 million as he presumably plays well below how he once did. Though he'd still be pretty good. We've seen what the Kelly Johnson/Brian Roberts/Yangervis Solarte experience looks like and it's certainly not viable long term, and if A-Rod hits above 100 OPS+ and plays decent defense, isn't that just an upgrade on a sunk cost? They already have to pay him and the internal options aren't that great, so it could be possible that swallowing your pride for the sake of a better squad, at least in 2015, could work.
The other option is to cut him and eat his contract. Now, this could have two forms. They could cut him immediately and completely avoid his return, or they could let him play 2015 and then rocket him to the moon afterward like the Angels did with Vernon Wells. They're still paying for him. If they were to cut him, I think realistically it would be the former. If they don't want him, they would make that clear and get rid of him and try to move on. They'd be able to avoid the endorsement clause in his contract and they'd essentially end the bleeding that is the negative press that would circulate around the Yankees until the end of 2017.
I'm still unconvinced as to which option they'll choose. They could let him play and cover their ears when the media arrives, and that would be fun for us viewers who love to watch media circuses from afar, but from a PR standpoint, it'd be horrendous. It would hurt the Yankee brand, and that could be worth something more than his salary. He could be a 2.0 WAR player next year, and that would not only be a huge upgrade, but not a massive overpay given the inflation of salaries on the free agent market. It still is up in the air, and the team probably will not make a decision until the offseason. Whether the Yankees want to pursue a free agent third baseman will certainly give us a clue to their thinking.