Mailbag: A-Rod, Profar, Hardy

The All A-Rod Chat
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Only three questions this week, but they’re good ones. Use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us anything throughout the week, mailbag questions or otherwise.

(Ronald Martinez/Getty)
(Ronald Martinez/Getty)

Many people asked: What happens with regards to the luxury tax if Alex Rodriguez retires or his contract is voided or he agrees to a buyout?

The answer to all three of those situations is: I have no idea. I imagine the Yankees would be off the hook completely if he voluntarily retired (which he would never do) or they were able to void the contract (which is extremely unlikely). Even if doctors said A-Rod was physically unable to play, he still wouldn’t retire. He’d just force the team to stick him on the 60-day DL every year and keep collecting his money, like Albert Belle did with the Orioles back in the day. That’s what I would do. The Yankees would collect insurance money in that case, but I don’t think it would prevent his salary from counting against the luxury tax. I don’t know that for sure though.

Until we have definitive word otherwise, I assume Alex and his entire $27.5M luxury tax hit will be on the books for the next five years. If they manage to work something out that changes his luxury tax hit, great. I’m not counting on it.

(Layne Murdoch/Getty)
(Layne Murdoch/Getty)

Anonymous asks: Hypothetical situation: if the Yankees had Jurickson Profar and you were the GM, would you hold him back in the minors, move Derek Jeter to a new position (or DH), or maybe something else entirely? This is obviously not a problem for the Yankees now, but it’s fun to play what-if.

Profar, 20 next month, is the best prospect in all of baseball. He hit .281/.368/.452 (127 wRC+) with 14 homers and 16 steals in 126 Double-A games last year, then made his big league debut in September. He’s truly elite, a great-defending shortstop who hits for average and power and can run. Profar is Hanley Ramirez — the good version with the Marlins from back in the day — with better defense.

If he was Yankees property and I was calling the shots, I’m pretty sure I would send Profar to Triple-A to begin 2013. It would be incredibly tempting to run him out there everyday if Jeter’s ankle kept him on the shelf early in the season, however. Profar would be the obvious long-term solution at shortstop once the Cap’n retires, and I would try to push Jeter to third base or DH in 2014 (assuming he exercises his player option) to make it happen.

Daniel asks: Any chance of acquiring J.J. Hardy from Baltimore? I can see them sticking with him this year, but would they really block Machado two straight years? I don’t think so and Hardy supposedly only plays shortstop.

Hardy, 30, hit .238/.282/.389 (78 wRC+) last season after putting together a .269/.310/.491 (113 wRC+) line with 30 homers a year ago. Given the dearth of quality shortstops, I totally would have traded Hardy this winter and handed Machado the shortstop job if I was the Orioles. Instead, Machado will play third base in 2013.

Baltimore owes Hardy $7M in both 2013 and 2014, so he’s very reasonably priced given his great defense and power production. He’d be a great fit for the Yankees if the ankle forces Jeter off shortstop full-time, but I have a very hard time seeing the Bombers and Orioles getting together for a trade. Especially if the O’s prove last year was no fluke and remain competitive. Hardy is too expensive to be a utility man and too good defensively to DH, but he’d be a great Jeter replacement.

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The All A-Rod Chat
Yankees continue to struggle to sell high-priced seats for all but the top matchups
  • blake

    Yes…if he is medically unable to play and doesn’t “retire” then he still counts 27.5 million per year towards the luxury tax…..

  • blake

    I saw Profar play in the sally league a couple of years ago and you could tell in 5 minutes he was special….we need one of those

    • jjyank

      Sure would be nice to have that problem. Hopefully one year from now other teams will be saying that about one of the Williams/Sanchez/Heathcott/Austin crowd.

      • Cris Pengiucci

        My thoughts exactly.

      • blake

        hopefully

  • http://Tab Ally

    At least his salary declines a bit each year…25, 21, 20, and 20 million after this season.

    • blake

      yea but for luxury tax purposes it’s always 27.5 cause that calculated off the AAV of the total contract.

      • Slappy McWaterbug

        Every. Single. Time. This has to be explained every single time.

        • http://Tab Ally

          If that remark was directed toward me, I can reassure you that I am fully aware that it is the average salary of the contract that counts toward total team salary in calculating luxury tax. We are also aware that the 189 number is actually approximately 177 once the benefits, etc. are included.

  • http://Tab Ally

    Yep, sure would like to see him retire for medical reasons.

  • Ed

    If A-Rod reaches a point where he can’t play anymore, there’s one potential out for the team. He’d have to agree, but if they outright him off the 40 man and send him to AAA, his salary wouldn’t count against the luxury tax. They tried to do this with Giambi back when he was completely worthless in 2004, but he obviously didn’t agree to it. They also wanted to do it with Pavano after he had his Tommy John surgery.

    I’m not sure exactly what the pros and cons for A-Rod. Those guys didn’t agree partly because of ego, and partly because they knew it was easier for the team to ignore them once they were off the 40 man. In Pavano’s case, service time was an issue too. He had a little over 9 years of service time. You earn a full retirement pension with 10 years, so he wanted the service time just in case he didn’t recover from the injury. A-Rod already has a full pension, and we’re talking scenarios where his career would be effectively over, so I don’t know if there’s a downside to him coming off the roster.

    • John C

      where is Tony Soprano when you need him? Or Joe Pesci?

      • Dale Mohorcic

        Or Jeff Gilooly.

    • Jobu

      A-Rod would have to agree to a minor league assignment, but I don’t think he would have to agree if they outrighted him off the 40 man. They would still have to pay him, but I don’t think he would count against the tax and he could just rot away in the minors. I see this as the only real leverage they have in a buyout or retirement negotiation. Does anyone know if you need a player’s approval to remove them from the 40 man?

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

        He has 10-and-5 rights, which is basically a “no assignment clause.” Being removed from the 40-man and outrighted to Triple-A is an assignment, which A-Rod could block.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Well the major downside for A-Rod is that he would no longer be on the 40-man roster, meaning no (free) healthcare for him and his family, no licensing money, etc.

      • Ed

        The healthcare I figured was a potential issue. I wonder if it’s possible for the team to work that out somehow – maybe they could work out a settlement where he agrees to come off the roster, and they give him a bonus intended to cover the benefits he loses?

        I don’t know anything about the licensing money or if there’s other benefits he loses out on, so I don’t know how significant that is.

    • trr

      If he voluntarily retires, it’s one thing – but why would he?
      The team owes him the money. He would never agree to the scenario you propose. Either the team will have to give him his release ( in which case we’d still be on the hook for most of the money even if he signs with another team) and still responsible for the AAV hit against the luxury tax. Or, just sit him, and keep him on the disabled list. It is my opinion he is no longer able to perform at a productive ML level. I think we all knew this day was coming (though perhaps not so soon) and whoever renogotiated this ridiculous contract should be run out of town on a rail!

      • Ed

        I think you’re missing the point of what I said. In my scenario he still gets paid every cent of his salary. It’s just a way of excluding his salary from the luxury tax, not the actual payroll.

        My idea does have him losing out on some benefits like healthcare, and maybe some union benefits. However, we’re probably talking about him losing 1-2% of the value of his contract by doing this. I’d imagine at that point both sides could come to an agreement. Maybe the Yankees give him a little extra money to agree to come off the roster.

    • RetroRob

      The point of a guaranteed contract it to protect A-Rod, and all players, in case of this type of injury/loss-of-productivity scenario. So he’s not going to agree to it, nor will the union allow it. I also believe the Yankees going down the road of trying to invalidate his contract due to loss of productivity (let’s be clear, this has nothing to do with PEDs) is not a good idea. Do they want to have a reputation as a team who will look for any excuse to cancel a contract? I don’t think that will help the Yankees land premium free agents in a Plan 189 world where teams such as the Dodgers can match the Yankees dollar offers.

      Insurance will only pay if he can’t play, and I don’t see that happening. He’s had the surgery, it went well, he’ll rehab, and come back. The real issue is can he be productive again. Age, injuries, surgeries, etc. could rob him of his skills, and insurance doesn’t cover that. That’s the real problem. If he can’t contribute at all, then the Yankees would have to cut him and pay the full value of the deal.

      The only out I can see is if A-Rod reaches a point where he’s done and accepts it (they’re the last to accept the end has come). He’ll still want his money, as he should, but I wonder if they can cut a deal where he retires as a player, cancelling his player’s contract, but they then replace it with a personal-services deal with the club for the same amount. It doesn’t matter if he does anything for them, but I think that would at least free the team from the $27.5M luxury tax impact, so both sides “win” in that scenario. I don’t know if this can be done, yet I’m not sure how MLB could stop it if A-Rod retires.

  • Nick

    I think something has been lost in all of this. If I recall correctly, there have been several studies that indicate that HGH does nothing.

    So, perversely all this controversy actually encourages people to use that crap, side effects be damned.

  • TomH

    Especially if the O’s prove last year was no fluke and remain competitive.

    I’m glad to see the “if” here. There’s been too much confidence in the statistical unlikelihood of a repeat of their 1-run successes. A year like last year will add both experience and confidence to that team, possibly permitting them to remain dangerous regardless of what happens in one-run games.

    • jjyank

      Eh, I think you’re overstating the effect last season has on the confidence of the O’s, and how that translates into wins. They were an inferior team to the Yankees on paper in 2012, and I think they still are in 2013. The Yankees took a step back, but the O’s lost a lot of home runs with Reynolds leaving too. I just don’t see them repeating last year.

      • Jim Is Bored

        I think you’re only remembering the Mark Reynolds that showed up against the Yankees.

        He was worth 0.5 fWAR last year. I’m pretty sure the O’s aren’t going to miss him. Machado >>>>> Reynolds.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          Machado didn’t replace Reynolds really, he replaced their hodgepodge of 3B (Betemit, Andino, etc.). Reynolds was the DH and they don’t have one right now.

          • Jim Is Bored

            If they’re smart, Machado will be at 3rd, and they have half of a DH with Betemit.

            Either way, my only point was that I can’t imagine they’re going to miss Reynolds, at least at the money he was making.

            • Jim Is Bored

              fwiw, Betemit is a lifetime 117 wrc+ hitter against RHP. 133 last year.

        • jjyank

          I don’t mean to imply that Reynolds is some kind of star, but he’s an above average player and hit 23 homers last year. My point is that the O’s didn’t add anything of value (outside of a full year of Machado instead of just 51 games). The lack of improvements, combined with an extreme long shot of setting one-run game and extra innings records, I don’t see them repeating last year.

          • Jim Is Bored

            Eh.

            I don’t see them as a 90 win team, but I certainly think they can stick around .500 and be a pain in the ass.

            • jjyank

              That sounds about right. I think you’re misunderstanding my expectations of the 2013 O’s. I don’t think they’re going from playoff member to a sub-.500 team. I just think that they will miss the playoffs. I don’t think they are as good as last year, and aside from having Machado for a few more games, they only change on the team was to lose a useful player. I don’t think that the “confidence” they gained from last season makes up for that, which was what I was responding to.

              • Jim Is Bored

                Ah. Yeah, I agree with that.

  • nick swishah is a stahting pitchah

    Pretty sure if he agrees to be taken off the 40-man roster it wouldn’t count against LT. Such as what happened with Igawa. Difference is, A-Rod has enough service time where he’d have to consent

  • mike

    I wonder if they could get Arod to retire……then give him a personal service contract for 10mm a year for 15 years or something.

    get out of the contract, save a ton of money with luxury tax, payroll flexability etc….

    • Barry

      A-Rod doesn’t want to retire. He wants to play, the Yankees may not want him to play for us but they signed the ink.
      Trade him to Japan? If that was possible that would be the biggest dick move the Yankees could pull on him.

      • Long-Past-His-Day-Rod

        Haha, now that would certainly cause a ruckus. It would make for some entertaining media though.

  • Barry

    Why don’t teams add in a yearly or bi-annual physical to long term contracts?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      They do. Players take physicals on the first day of Spring Training and again as soon as the season ends.

      • Barry

        So what would happen if they failed his physical but said that it was an uncorrectable injury?

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          They’d get sued for fraud, most likely. His injury is correctable, the Yankees already said so.

  • Steve (different one)

    The reporting on this ARod thing has just been incredible to me. So many articles about how Arod will never play for the Yankees again, yet none of them giving the viable mechanism for how that would happen.

    He’s not going to retire. And before this steroids story broke, no one was saying this injury was career ending. Now all of a sudden, he’s some invalid who is going to walk away from $114M because the rehab is too onerous? Or that the Yankees will be able to collect the insurance just because? Or that they will be able to void his contract somehow? That Arod will be so afraid of being booed he will negotiate a buyout that makes sense for the Yankees?

    The most likely outcome, no matter how much wish casting is done otherwise, is that ARod is back in the Bronx in August. He gets booed for a week, then people get bored.

    • jsbrendog

      yeah prob, although i think he gets booed throughout the end of the season whether it be reg season if they msis the playoffs or whenever they are eliminated from/win the world series.

    • RetroRob

      The “reporting” has been horrible. Just because A-Rod makes a ton of money, or plays for the Yankees, or is more disliked by fans than other players does not mean a new set of rules are created for him. At worst, he get s 50-game suspension, and I’m saying it right now. He won’t even get that. Nothing will happen out of this. Nothing.

  • TomH

    If this story has real, actionable legs to stand on, ARod is in trouble of some kind, even if its just as the object of endless booing.

    If the story has no legs, and if ARod comes back swinging and hitting after the AS Game, this will be forgotten and no one will want him traded, released, shipped to Japan or parts unknown. At this point, I’m just going to wait and see where everything is when MLB completes its alleged “investigation.” Until then, it’s pretty much a Princess Di-is-dead or Manti’s-virtual-girlfriend story.

    • Steve (different one)

      But even if he is “in trouble”, it doesn’t change much. At most, he will get suspended for 50 games. Which he will serve….on the DL. It would cost him about $8M but I don’t think he’ll have to go on food stamps.

      I guess MLB could drag out the investigation long enough where he is suspended in August/September.

      I think we should all be hoping he is suspended if that means Melky would also be suspended. Melky would get 100 games and could be the difference in the AL East….

      • RetroRob

        Melky has already served his time. They would have to show he has been using PEDs since he was suspended. I doubt that’s the case, although nothing would surprise me.

        • Steve (different one)

          This is true.

          Substitute “Cruz” for “Melky”, “50” for “100”, and “wild card” for “AL East”….

          • RetroRob

            Did Cruz fail a previous test? I can’t keep track anymore, especially since the only player who gets coverage is A-Rod!

  • Gonzo

    Do TJ Quinn and Mike Fish pass the journalistic integrity test for you guys?

    • Steve (different one)

      Sure, it’s their source that is important though.

      Now, that said, this article seems to make things very cut and dried: if it is true, there should be records of the texts from ARod to Bosch. If there are, ARod might be hanging himself with his own rope. Is he dumb enough to do that? Absolutely. But is his lawyer that dumb? Doubtful.

      I have no idea what to think. I am at the point where nothing would surprise me with ARod, yet this seems like something that should be very easy to verify, so how could you deny it if it is true?

      • RetroRob

        That’s right.

        The reporting could be fine, but it’s only as good as the source information.

        Leggaly, it won’t be hard to re-construct if there is a connection to Bosch. Is that actually Bosch’s handwriting? Computer forensics can see when the documents were created. Phone records. Cancelled checks.

        If A-Rod has a connection, it will come out. That’s why it would be stupid for him to make the statement he did, and his lawyer would know that. So that’ll make for an interesting subplot. Like you, I have no idea what to think.

        • Gonzo

          I guess we are living in a CSI world. It’s a huge liability to take shortcuts or be wrong. To me, questioning the source is almost the same as questioning the reporter. It’s perfectly fine to question the reporter, BTW.

      • TomH

        I just don’t agree with the notion that ARod is somehow “dumb,” if that means lacking in intelligence. He always seems pretty damned intelligent when I hear him on television, and his baseball intelligence may very well be in the top percentile.

        I take it that when he’s called “dumb,” it refrs to some character failing; and, if so, he’s not alone: we’re all prone to dumbness if some passion or interest takes possession of us (reason is pond scum thin).

        As when people called Pres. Clinton “dumb.” Obviously he was pretty intelligent–but not where bimbos were concerned (a failing he shares with more than a few men!). And by this measure, ARod’s presumably smart lawyer will have his own dumb zone, whether for wine, women, or song.

        We need some other word for this failing. Actually, we used to have one, but it has fallen temporarily out of fashion.