In December 2007, the Yankees pulled off a very Yankee-like deal, signing superstar third baseman Alex Rodriguez to a 10-year, $275 million deal.
A-Rod was probably the best hitter in baseball at the time, as he had been since coming into his own with the Seattle Mariners in 1996.
With Rodriguez now banged up and not producing nearly as much for the 2nd straight year, it’s time to ask: has it been a successful signing?
Obviously answering the question comes down to opinion. However, that doesn’t mean his statistics since signing the deal can’t nudge you toward one side of the argument or the other.
So, let’s take a look at his numbers since his pen hit the paper:
- 2008: 138 GP, .302 AVG, 35 HR, 103 RBI
- 2009: 128 GP, .286 AVG, 30 HR, 100 RBI
- 2010: 137 GP, .270 AVG, 30 HR, 125 RBI
- 2011: 99 GP, .276 AVG, 16 HR, 62 RBI
- 2012: 94 GP, .276 AVG, 15 HR, 44 RBI
While some of his numbers are solid here and there, they are nowhere near the numbers of the A-Rod the league saw prior to the 10-year deal.
Even in the better years of those listed above, he was still playing about 15-20 fewer games per year (about one DL stint’s worth), hitting anywhere from 10-20 fewer home runs, and driving in fewer runs. In 2007, the year before he signed with the Yankees, Rodriguez drove in 156 runs, 53 fewer than in 2008.
So his numbers are way down.
And after this year concludes, A-Rod will only have played in about 200 games in the last two seasons combined.
For someone who is in his 19th season in the big leagues (17th playing most of the games), I’d say those injury or “wear & tear” concerns are big concerns. He’s not even halfway through the lucrative nine-figure deal and he’s nowhere near the same player he was.
Even if Rodriguez does come back next year to play close to a full season, I don’t think it’d be too realistic to expect much more than 25 home runs and 90 RBIs (give or take). And those are mediocre numbers for a middle-of-the-order slugger in today’s game.
Let’s say he produces at a clip somewhere around that through the 2014 season, which may be generous. There would still be three very expensive years left on the contract for the Yankees to pay off. The deal was front-loaded, which makes it a little more bearable for the next 5 1/2 years, but they’re still going to be paying an average of $23M through 2017.
Being generous again, we’ll say he’ll be around the 20 HR mark with 80 RBIs in the years 2015, ’16, and ’17. I’d say those numbers are safe guesses, considering he could easily go below or above those clips in any one of those seasons. If he is anywhere close, though, he will be eating up a ton of money while not quite earning those big bucks.
The Yankees have already won one World Series (2009) during the contract, but the thought behind a deal this massive is for the player to help bring multiple championships…and that’s certainly the case with the Steinbrenner Yankees.
With all that laid out, let’s get back to the original question:
Has the signing been successful?
Since we’re not even half way through the deal yet, we don’t know if A-Rod will help bring more titles to the Bronx. The safe answer would be “yes,” but you never know how things will transpire.
I’d say this deal has teeter-tottered on the line of good or bad so far, but despite all the negative evidence I’ve presented, I’m going to have to say that it has been a successful deal.
If you want to lock up the best player in baseball for the foreseeable future, you’re going to have to dish out the dough…there’s no way around it.
The Angels wanted Albert Pujols last winter, so they manned up and offered him a 10-year deal and in turn got their man. It’s just what you have to do to lock up someone so dominant.
Who knows, maybe A-Rod bounces back, moves to the DH spot, stays healthy, and puts up 30 homers and 100 RBIs for 3 or 4 more years. It’s definitely a possibility. If the Yankees can win a couple more, or even just one more World Series title in the A-Rod years, it’ll be hard to label the deal as a failure.
Even for a franchise like the Yankees that has 27 championships on its resume, winning 2 out of 10 is very good and 3 out of 10 is great. Winning it all is just too tough a task to ask for more often than that.
And while we all love statistics in today’s fantasy sport-obsessed world, sports still come down to winning, plain and simple. That’s the one thing that will never change about sports.
If Rodriguez fails to stay on the field for the next five years and the Yankees don’t win, in part because of his contract holding them down, then you can label it as a bad contract. But I’d say that series of events is somewhat unlikely.
For the Yankees, more than with any other team, winning is not only everything, it’s the only thing. No matter how many long balls you can read on A-Rod’s all-time total from here on out, it’ll be the number of rings on his fingers that really matter.
But is a huge 10-year deal a very risky move? You betcha. Just ask the Angels.