On Tuesday, Alex Rodriguez revealed to the world that he's been cleared to play in games again. Yankees GM Brian Cashman said A-Rod "should just shut the fuck up." Here's what Rodriguez is thinking: The Yankees should pay the fuck up. Because whether he plays again this season is a $22 million question.
The Yankees are hamstrung by the 10-year, $275 million deal they gave to Rodriguez before the 2008 season, and by all accounts, have looked for ways to get out of it. A possibility presented itself this offseason, when Rodriguez underwent hip surgery that was expected to keep him out for most, if not all of 2013. Rodriguez's contract is partially insured, meaning that if he misses the entire season due to injury, insurance will cover 80 percent of the $28 million he's due. The Yankees aren't winning a World Series this year, and their fans aren't clamoring for Rodriguez to return, so it's no stretch of the imagination to assume the front office has no interest in Rodriguez coming back this year.
Both sides have tried to smooth over Cashman's "shut the fuck up" comment. (For more on how Andrew Marchand got the quote, ESPN's got you covered.) Rodriguez said his tweet about being game-ready was a mistake of "pure excitement." Cashman apologized publicly, saying he was just upset that A-Rod was contradicting team doctors, who had not cleared him to play. The two had "a constructive, healthy conversation" yesterday evening.
But today, the anonymous smearing has begun, with two intriguing nuggets of information, . First: Rodriguez knows the Yankees don't want him back so they can collect insurance. Second: Rodriguez could retire from baseball and collect the remaining four-plus years of his contract anyway.
According to ESPN, an unnamed source from Rodriguez's camp says A-Rod is onto the insurance scam:
"Alex thinks there's something really off about this situation. Here we have a doctor declaring him fit to play. You think they would be happy about that.
"Alex thinks it's all about the insurance. How could it not be?"
Brian Cashman called the claim false, saying "if Alex Rodriguez is healthy, we want him, and I want him, playing third base for us yesterday."
The other storyline, which has the back pages of both the Daily News and the Post this morning, is even juicier, and presumably comes from the Yankees. Rodriguez supposedly fears a lengthy, perhaps even a lifetime ban from baseball for his role in the Biogenesis PED scandal. To avoid that, the source claims, and to avoid forfeiting the $86 million he's owed from 2014-2017, he could retire—citing the same hip injury that the Yankees seem to think is so crippling. If Rodriguez retires because he's physically unable to perform, his remaining contract is guaranteed—but again, 80 percent would be covered by insurance.
The Post's source makes it sound as if Rodriguez is legitimately concerned about his health. The Daily News' source? Not so much:
“It’s all about him getting his money and not losing it to suspension,” one source close to the situation told the Daily News. “He knows he’s never going to the Hall of Fame. All that’s left for him is to make sure he gets his money — all of it.”
So, how much of all this is grounded in fact, and how much is fantasy (aspirational leaks, if you will)? Who knows. But if even a small portion is true, we're in for months of sniping, union appeals, maybe legal proceedings. And if none of it is true, and Rodriguez comes back to play out his contract? That'll mean four more years of an unhappy forced marriage for both the Yankees and A-Rod. Everybody wins!