When Alex Rodriguez returned from his 162-game suspension last year, no one knew what to expect. There was even some talk about whether the Yankees shouldn't just part ways with their designated hitter if he appeared to have nothing left in the tank. Luckily, that didn't end up being the case. A-Rod got off to a red-hot start in 2015, slashing .278/.382/.515 with 18 home runs in the first half. He was not able to maintain that level of play, however, and he hit just .216/.324/.448 in the second half. We're nearly halfway through the 2016 season now, and Rodriguez has continued to hit poorly for almost a full season. Is it time for the Yankees to consider releasing him?
2015 was a fairytale season, where A-Rod started off strong then appeared to run out of gas. Unfortunately, the 40-year-old has not been able to replicate last year's performance in 2016. He did miss nearly a month with a hamstring strain, but he's still hitting just .223/.264/.398 with eight home runs through 166 at-bats. At this point, A-Rod is a black hole in the Yankees' lineup. He is far from the only Yankee struggling at the plate, but with another year on his contract, he does not have a whole lot of upside (compared to someone like Mark Teixeira, who is at least useful defensively still). If A-Rod doesn't heat up at the plate soon, the Yankees might be better off releasing him.
The Dodgers were faced with a similar scenario several weeks ago, and decided that it was in their best interest to part ways with Carl Crawford. To be fair, Crawford didn't have as good of a 2015 season as A-Rod, and he was slashing a putrid .185/.230/.235 through 81 at-bats in 2016. However, Crawford was playing so poorly that the Dodgers decided to eat the rest of his contract, which amounts to $20.8 million in 2016, and $21 million in 2017.
Similarly to Crawford, A-Rod is set to make $20 million in 2016, and another $20 million in 2017. Obviously, it would be ideal if Rodriguez found a way to turn things around at the plate, but at a certain point it doesn't make sense for the Yankees to wait another year and a half to see if that will happen. Especially if the team has any hope of pull it together and making a run for the playoffs. The greatest benefit to cutting A-Rod is that Carlos Beltran could take over the role of full-time DH. Beltran is by far the best hitter on this team, but he is a defensive liability and really has no business playing right field anymore. This would open up the opportunity to add another decent bat to the lineup.
The main question is whether the Yankees would be willing to eat the ~$30 million that A-Rod has left on his contract. They did release Brian Roberts and Alfonso Soriano mid-season in 2014, but the Yankees only owed Soriano about $5 million at that point, and Roberts was on a $2 million deal. Interestingly, A-Rod is only hitting slightly better now than Soriano was hitting when he was cut (.221/.244/.367 with six home runs). From a fan perspective, it would be sad to see A-Rod released, and I hope that he can get it going at the plate, but the Yankees might be better off without him in the lineup.
Do you think the Yankees should cut their losses and release Alex Rodriguez, or should they give him more time to improve?