The Yankees have made a habit out of sticking all manner of former great players in the designated hitter spot in an effort to squeeze as much out of the twilight of their careers as possible. Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, even Derek Jeter spent a lot of time as a one dimensional player in his final season. One thing that was a commonality among those players was they were all beloved by the organization. While it wasn't always best for the organization, there was a trust that those players would be able to contribute and a respect for what they had accomplished in New York. It doesn't really need repeating, but none of that similar goodwill exists between the organization and Alex Rodriguez. So their attempts to squeeze out whatever juice is left in A-Rod's bat is for the sole purpose of getting some sort of pop into an otherwise dreary lineup. But can we be sure he would actually produce at an even adequate level?
Steamer has Rodriguez projected for a paltry 96 wRC+, which would be below average for a third baseman and bad for a designated hitter. Such are the expectations for old players coming off a year break. The maligned Carlos Beltran put up a similar 95 wRC+ last season. And while I don't have much faith in Beltran bouncing back, he is slightly younger and doesn't have the baggage that Rodriguez does. The Yankees may be crazy enough to try Beltran out in right again, but making him the designated hitter would be best for his health. That would open up the right field to the generally unimpressive Garrett Jones and Chris Young. On their own, they've had middling careers for the most part. But even middling players can be useful if they are deployed properly.
Their splits could make them a formidable platoon. Young has a career 116 wRC+ versus left handed pitching, while Jones has a 121 wRC+ versus right handed pitching. If we want to be kind to A-Rod and use his prior two seasons rather than projections, he had a 113 wRC+. So even if Rodriguez returns to his 2012-2013 form at age 40, he still wouldn't match the career numbers of that proposed platoon. Now Jones is the guy to inevitably step in when Mark Teixeira gets hurt, but as the lefty in the equation it still doesn't really make A-Rod essential. Basically why do you need to have spare designated hitter on an older team that needs as many able bodies as it can get? Particularly with production that is not difficult to replace. Throw on top of there that you dislike the guy and have already gotten prepared to fight with him over money he could be owed.
If Rodriguez surprised us and the team and shows he is still an asset in the field, it changes the equation completely. Thus far the only person that seems to think that thus far is Rodriguez himself, so I don't expect much. We've already gotten our share of Rodriguez drama and it's only January, but really all that's secondary. The team just doesn't need a 40 year old designated hitter that projects to hit worse than a trade throw-in (Jones) and a guy who got cut by the New York Mets (Young). Maybe if he tears the cover off the ball in Spring Training the team will keep him around, but there's a very real chance he's not good enough to be worth devoting a roster spot to.