It's no secret that there has been very little love between the Yankees and Alex Rodriguez over the past few years. Between the Biogenesis scandal, A-Rod getting slapped with the 162-game suspension and trying to sue everyone, and Brian Cashman publicly cursing him out, there was some question as to whether the Yankees wouldn't just eat his contract and cut him from the team. That would have been a huge financial loss, though, since the Yankees owe him $21 million this year, and $40 million for the next two years. Unfortunately for them, his contract also includes a series of incentives that will earn him bonus money in the range of $30 million if he ties certain home run milestones. For the past few months, we've heard that the Yankees plan to contest this portion of A-Rod's contract, now it sounds like they're going to refuse to pay him, and will go to arbitration to void the deal. Does Alex Rodriguez deserve the home run bonuses or should the Yankees refuse to pay him?
The Yankees should pay him
Whichever way you slice it, A-Rod is the best player on the team right now. He's 39-years-old, missed an entire year of baseball, hasn't played close to full season since 2012, and yet he's batting .286/.412/.643 with four home runs and a 1.055 OPS. No one had any idea what to expect when he showed up for spring training, but he has played surprisingly well ever since. Who knows how long he can keep hitting like this, but for now he's exciting to watch, and we can hope that being the full-time DH will keep him fresh longer than if he was fielding every day.
One of the Yankees' arguments against paying A-Rod the home run bonus money is that his steroid use has tainted the records, so now they can't be marketed, which was the whole point when the incentives were written into his contract. They're kidding themselves if they think they won't make money off of Rodriguez as he approaches and passes any of these milestones though. The fact that it's all so controversial now might even contribute to bigger ticket sales. I know if I lived locally, I might sell a kidney to be able to attend the game where A-Rod ties Willie Mays, partially just to see how the Yankees will handle it if it happens at home.
If the Yankees refuse to pay A-Rod the $6 million bonus that kicks in when he ties Mays, the union argument would be that not paying him would be the equivalent of disciplining him for his past behavior. He already served his time, and only the commissioner can discipline players under the Joint Drug Agreement. Also, do the Yankees really want to run the risk of pissing off their best hitter by taking him to arbitration in the middle of the season? Can't everyone just get along?
The Yankees should fight him
It's understandable that the Yankees don't want to pay A-Rod any of the bonus money that he would trigger by reaching the home run milestones in his contract. Their best argument may be that his ten-year contract was put into place before it was ever revealed that he had used steroids. Even if they were suspicious due to the massive numbers he put up, they couldn't possibly have predicted how the past few years would shape up or how tarnished A-Rod's name would become. From a financial standpoint, it also makes sense that they don't want to pay him. His body has broken down considerably, what with the hip replacement, and he's still signed for another two years after this season wraps up. They already owe him millions of dollars, and they might take any loop hole they can to avoid owing him even more money. For the Yankees part, they would apparently have to show that they acted "in good faith" in declining to pay the bonuses, if it does indeed go to an arbitrator.
So, what do you think: should the Yankees pay A-Rod the bonus money or fight him? Let us know in the comments and vote in the poll below.