New York Yankees are living life without Derek Jeter and manager Joe Girardi has already begun to sculpt his 2015 roster.
One problem he currently has is Alex Rodriguez.
The 39-year-old megastar is one of the most highly decorated individuals still active in the game but the 14-time All-Star is a danger to the Yankees. Rodriguez was banned for the entire 2014 season for his part in the Biogenesis drug scandal and his use of illegal performance enhancing supplements.
The third baseman is able to restart his MLB career next year in Spring Training but the Yankees manager has not decided what role Rodriguez will play.
Bringing back an ex-offender is a risky move which might not go down well with the fans but what A-Rod will do is entertain a crowd, whether for the right or wrong reasons.
With 654 home runs, 1,969 RBIs with a .300 batting average in his 20-year MLB career the man knows how to get runs, which is something the Yankees lacked in his absence this term.
Whether he is a returning hero or pantomime villain Rodriguez is a star which will put bums on Yankee Stadium seats and keep the cash flow healthy (although it is hardly been a problem for the megabucks Yankeee franchise).
Despite being one of the most recognisable faces in baseball Rodriguez will be somewhat of an unknown quality in 2015.
Having been out of action for what will be 18 months and with an ageing body, question marks will surround Spring Training about whether A-Rod can still hit it. Any player knows a substantial time out of the game will take its toll and there was little evidence post-2010 that Rodriguez was still the same player.
Rodriguez has not won an individual accolade since his tenth Silver Slugger award in 2008 and his last All-Star appearance was three years ago. Much like Jeter and nearly every player before him, his senior years are seeing a natural decline in hits and scores as the young guns overtake him.
What complicates the Rodriguez issue is the sizeable contract remaining between the two. In November 2007 A-Rod and the Yankees agreed to the biggest contract in baseball history: a 10-year, $275 million deal.
Next season Rodriguez will still have three more years to see out which will take him to a happy retirement aged 42. Three years of any big league contract is a substantial amount of dough and it is money the Yankees will want to get the most out of. One thing is for certain, Moneyball it isn't.
In Rodriguez’s early career he frequently played shortstop but when he switched to the Bronx in 2004 that position was taken by the aforementioned Jeter. This meant Rodriguez squeezed in at third base but with the captain enjoying his retirement shortstop has a vacancy.
Girardi is still assessing his options at shortstop and Rodriguez is certainly a safe pair of fielding hands. But his age might count against him as the Yankees want a long-term shortstop whereas A-Rod will only offer three years at most.
The 39-year-old will also have a tough task displacing the current Yankees third baseman. The position has been split this season between Chase Headley and Zelous Wheeler who have been reliable and competent this season.
Alex Rodriguez has given opposition managers headaches during his entire career but this time it is his own manager with the tricky decision. In truth, we might not find out the answer until the 2015 season is in full flow.
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