The Yankees and Alex Rodriguez are fighting again. What's new? While their squabbling over his milestone bonuses just adds to the baggage A-Rod will bring to Spring Training, the fact remains that he will (presumably) return to the diamond in 2015. Few people are optimistic about this: Brian Cashman has said he has "low expectations" and reportedly won't even talk to Rodriguez before spring training, and Steamer has already predicted that A-Rod won't even be a league-average hitter this year. But what if things break right for Rodriguez, and he's got something left in the tank? Let's take a look at what the best-case scenario is for Rodriguez's 2015 season.
On the field:
Steamer projections are quite pessimistic regarding Rodriguez: just a .235/.316/.382 triple slash and a 96 wRC+. PECOTA isn't much better, offering a .247/.324/.408 line over 250 plate appearances. Obviously, neither is not what teams expect from their DH. In fact, if A-Rod posted Steamer's stat line last year, he would've had the lowest wRC+ among qualified designated hitters, and he would've been near the bottom in slugging as well. Optimistically, the most we could expect from A-Rod is a return to something close to his 2012 form. That year, Rodriguez hit .272/.353/.430 with a 113 wRC+. Numbers slightly lower than this - say an average around .250 and slugging closer to .400, along with a wRC+ of about 110 - is probably the best Rodriguez can hope for this season. While they're not the MVP-caliber numbers he used to post, this result would still make A-Rod a valuable bat and a decent everyday DH.
Posting these numbers in over 100 games would go a long way to stabilizing the Yankees offense and would give them quite a bit more punch than they had last year. In fact, his 113 wRC+ from 2012 would've been second highest on the team last year among players with more than 200 at-bats (Headley's 121 wRC+ in the Bronx led the team). Adding a mildly productive A-Rod like the 2012 version to the Yankee lineup would give them another dangerous bat, as well as helping to mitigate the risk of relying on Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann having the bounce-back years needed to shore up the offense.
Off the field:
Off the field, the best-case scenario is something that hasn't happened much during A-Rod's tenure in New York: radio silence. Obviously, there will be a lot of coverage of Rodriguez in the media, but he can do a lot to both appease the front office and gain perhaps some mild acceptance from fans if he'd just be quiet. He would limit his attention-grabbing quotes, refrain from firing shots at Cashman or the front office, and just play the game. Unfortunately, this is about as likely as Rodriguez hitting .300, but his quiet year away from the game should give fans some hope that Rodriguez might keep his head down this year.
While A-Rod likely will be a disappointment this season, there is a chance he could exceed expectations and top out as a serviceable DH. While it's not going to make him beloved or even an All-Star, perhaps, for this once-in-a-generation talent, just being a productive everyday player will finally be enough for Rodriguez.