The accolades came easy when Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was asked about Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. But a different kind of word was used when Buster Olney asked Cashman for his thoughts on Alex Rodriguez on ESPN’s Sunday Conversation this week.
“Complicated,” Cashman said.
Olney was checking in with the highly successful New York GM as his team forges through its newest season without the aid of Rodriguez, who is out until late summer after having hip surgery in January. Rodriguez drew attention for the injury — the second hip surgery of his career — this offseason, but that was the least of his worries. Rodriguez also was under scrutiny for his huge contract with the Yankees, which he may not complete, as well as allegations that he was involved with a South Florida clinic that sold performance-enhancing drugs.
While Cashman declined to talk about the clinic, he was up-front about Rodriguez’s contract. The third baseman is in the sixth year of a 10-year, $275 million deal (with further home run incentives), and it is appearing increasingly unlikely that he’ll finish out the contract, much less that he’ll fulfill its worth.
“It’s something I think even Alex would tell you, he couldn’t live up to that [contract],” Cashman said. “It’s an enormous contract, and I think that, I would say probably, he couldn’t live up to it. But he’s doing everything he can to try to do so.”
Cashman said that while the Yankees don’t expect Rodriguez to return to an MVP level, they still think — or hope — that they can get some use out of the remaining years on his deal.
“Hopefully he can return to being at the very least an above-average player at [third base], because that’s what he’s been for the last few years,” Cashman said. “Once his injuries came into play with him, they may have taken away his ability to be a superstar. But he’s still an above-average player at that position and hopefully that’s what we’re going to get.”
Rodriguez may not have a chance to live up to his original contract, but he’ll get an opportunity to fulfill those reduced expectations later this year.