Brian Cashman has repeatedly claimed that Alex Rodriguez is the best option the New York Yankees have at third base and the team would much prefer to have him on the field than at home serving a suspension. Cashman has maintained this position even when considering the suspension would save the team $25 million.
New York is better off without Rodriguez on the roster and not just because of the money. Though the Yankees typically spend more for the bigger name, they’re better off taking a page out of the Moneyball approach in 2014 and attempting to replace Rodriguez in the aggregate. Over the past three seasons, Rodriguez has brought a huge name and not much performance. The Yankees can do better.
From 2011-13, Rodriguez batted .269 and averaged 14 home runs and 46 RBIs a year. A platoon between Eduardo Nunez and Kelly Johnson is more than capable of matching that kind of production. In 2013, Johnson alone had 16 home runs and 52 RBIs in 118 games.
To be fair, Rodriguez averaged 88 games over the past three years, so one could argue that those statistics only reflect what he’d do in half a season. In reality, this emphasizes yet another problem the Yankees would have to deal with to keep Rodriguez in the lineup: he can’t stay healthy anymore.
Because of injuries to his calf and quad, the 38-year-old could barely jog by the end of 2013 and was relegated to DH duties. Every at-bat was a walk — and I don’t mean a base-on-balls. Rodriguez physically could not run. He may be a better home run hitter than Johnson and Nunez, but he’s not going to be able to trot around the bases after every at-bat. When he doesn’t drive the ball out of the park, he’s a liability on the base path.
Rodriguez’s name has eclipsed his production over the past few seasons as the former superstar has faced declining skills and durability. The Yankees are better off with a platoon of Nunez and Johnson – especially at a price of less than $4 million.