In a somewhat surprising interview, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman defended troubled third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
Forget the fact that the Yankees missed the playoffs for just the second time in 19 years, they’re old and banged up, and likely trying to maneuver their payroll under the $189 million threshold — those factors alone would be reason enough for Cashman to try and renege Rodriguez’s contract.
Add in reports that Rodriguez was planning on filing a lawsuit against the Yankees for their role in what Rodriguez called a “witch hunt” to get him out of Major league Baseball all together, and you’ve got something fishy.
It makes sense that Cashman would make kind, positive remarks about Rodriguez if he thinks there’s an impending lawsuit over his team’s role in a slanderous effort to force Rodriguez at least off the Yankees’ active roster, if not baseball entirely. For what it’s worth though, Cashman did a good job making his comments on The Ian O’Connor Show sound sincere and founded in baseball logic.
“If it comes down to, would we want the player we signed to be playing that position without any problems? Absolutely, no question about that,” Cashman said. “I think if people think there’s some sort of benefit by losing that talent, I mean, you can’t replace it. It’s not like, all right, well, Alex is gone. If he winds up getting suspended and it’s upheld, how do you replace that? It’s not easy.
“It’s not like, all right, we’ll take that money and go in this direction. I think … our fan base saw when we lost significant players at various positions, it was not easy to plug holes because the talent just doesn’t exist. It’s not like going down to a Home Depot and pulling something out that you need that’s broke and you’ve got to fix it.”
Of course, Yankee fans may find that hard to believe. When Yankees third baseman Aaron Boone, fresh off crushing the hopes and dreams of Red Sox Nation, tore up his knee in the offseason before the 2004 season playing pickup basketball, Cashman simply went out and made a deal for Rodriguez, arguably the best player in baseball at the time and the reigning American League MVP.
Rodriguez does have 654 home runs, just six shy of Willie Mays for fourth all-time. Boone, the man Rodriguez replaced, hit just 126 homers in 13 seasons, while Rodriguez hit 174 in his first four seasons with the Yankees alone. That type of legacy and middle-of-the-order threat doesn’t grow on trees, so Cashman’s point isn’t completely null and void.
“Ultimately from a baseball operations standpoint, taking out all the areas of controversy, having Alex Rodriguez man third base is obviously by far the best option for the Yankees than what the alternatives would be in theory,” Cashman said.
Part of the proposed deal to acquire Rodriguez in the first place was now free-agent second baseman Robinson Cano. The All-Star reportedly hopes to receive a 10-year, $305 million deal. While Cashman apparently doesn’t have any idea if the Yankees will win the Cano sweepstakes and retain his services, he does have good things to say about the man who hasn’t played fewer than 159 games for the Yankees since 2006.
“I don’t have a gut [feeling], I really don’t,” Cashman said, regarding whether Cano would re-sign with New York or not. “We’d certainly like that to happen, but the better you are at something, the more options and opportunities you create, and he’s certainly going to create a lot of opportunities for himself. … [Cano] should have a lot of interest because he’s obviously the best at that position.”
Cano has hit 204 home runs of his own during his nine-year tenure as the Yankee second baseman.