This idea is so ludicrous to me that it shouldn’t even be mentioned or considered. However, after New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter announced that he will retire following the 2014 season, the idea that Alex Rodriguez might replace him became an actual, albeit unlikely, possibility.
Rodriguez is serving a PED-related suspension for the entirety of the 2014 season, but Yankees GM Brian Cashman has said that he expects him to play in 2015. The former shortstop-turned third baseman is signed with the Yankees through 2017 and is owed $61 million through the end of the contract.
The Yankees could decide to cut him and eat his salary or attempt to trade him. A trade would certainly leave them paying most, if not all of his salary anyway, and that’s if any teams are even interested.
A-Rod has played third base since coming to the Yankees in 2004, but before that he was on track to become one of the greatest shortstops in MLB history. Of course, the Yankees already had a shortstop in 2004, so the switch to third was made.
With Jeter out in 2015 and the Yankees lacking a clear-cut replacement at this time, I suppose it’s possible for A-Rod to move back to short when his suspension is up. I just can’t imagine the Yankees would do that. They are going to spend all of 2014 saying goodbye to one of the greatest Yankees of all time, and then they are going to give his position to a declining, rusty, despised-in-New York anti-Jeter?
The Yankees wouldn’t replace their captain with a player who has sued them, their medical staff and his own players union, would they? One tried-and-true fact about the Yankees is that they will always do what gives them the best chance to win. The good news is, a 39-year-old A-Rod giving them the best chance to win at short in 2015 is very unlikely.
Sure, there isn’t a clear replacement plan yet, but the Yankees do have several options at their disposal. Brendon Ryan is on the roster now to backup Jeter in 2014. He’s signed through 2015 with a player option for 2016. A career .237 hitter, it’s not likely Ryan is the shortstop of the future, but it’s possible if his bat improves.
The Yankees also have a handful of promising young shortstops in the pipeline, although many won’t be ready for the majors by 2015. One that might is Cito Culver. After making the change from a switch-hitter to only batting from the right side, Culver improved dramatically during the 2013 season in Class-A ball. A career .238 hitter in the minors, Culver posted a .355/.394/.484 line in his final 16 games last season after getting comfortable from the right side. He has good speed and defensive skills, and many think he might be on the verge of a breakout year.
True to the Yankee way, an external replacement is also a possibility (a likely one at that). Troy Tulowitzki is a sexy pick right now, and though he’s signed with the Colorado Rockies through 2021, that doesn’t mean the Yankees can’t try for a trade. Tulowitzki is a three-time All-Star at just 29 years of age. He grew up idolizing Jeter and wears No. 2 in his honor. His career line over eight major league seasons is .295/.367/.509, and he has won two Gold Gloves at shortstop.
Those are just a few possibilities, and rest assured there are many more that don’t involve A-Rod. I cringe at the thought of A-Rod replacing Jeter. That scenario would probably be something A-Rod would relish. It might feel like vindication for him, or at least a chance to write his own ending his way. Jeter deserves to write his own ending – A-Rod does not.