In case you’d forgotten, A-Rod still has six years remaining on his contract, which means he’ll turn 42 in July of the final year of his deal, 2017, at which point he’ll still earn $20 million, down from the $31 million he made last year.We can clearly see the side-effects of A-Rod's contract with the way the Yankees have handled this offseason, and I suspect that won't change for the life of the deal.
By then, well, the only question was supposed to be how many more home runs had Rodriguez hit than Barry Bonds in surpassing him to become baseball’s all-time home run leader. Now the question, after four straight injury-marred seasons, isn’t just whether A-Rod will get near Bonds’ record but whether he can play anywhere near his superstar level of old.
It’s not about his bat speed but simply his ability to stay healthy. He was an iron man for much of his career, averaging 158 games played from 2001 through 2007. Of course, we know that he had some help in at least some of those years, since A-Rod has admitted using steroids from 2001-03.
But in any case, injuries have prevented him from playing more than 138 games in any of the last four seasons. Because he needed arthroscopic knee surgery last summer and then dealt with a thumb injury upon his return, A-Rod last season played in only 99 games, a career-low, while hitting only 16 home runs.
The drop-off in power last year was clearly linked to his knee injury. Rodriguez, remember, had a spectacular spring training last March, hitting with an explosiveness in his swing that had been absent since hip surgery in the spring of 2009. Hitting coach Kevin Long was so wowed that he was predicting a return to 2007-like numbers; A-Rod hit 54 home runs that year in winning his third MVP award.
So you could make a case that Rodriguez should return to form. He insisted the knee surgery, which repaired torn cartilage, wasn’t anything serious enough to limit him in the years to come, and indeed, it’s the most common of surgeries for pro athletes.
Only now you have to wonder. If it was still enough of an issue for him to seek radical treatment earlier this month, following Kobe Bryant’s advice in getting Orthokine treatment on his right knee — and left shoulder — then it can hardly be dismissed as something that won’t bother him in the future.
It's a deal that, in my opinion, will go down as the worst contract ever handed out in baseball, if not all of sports. I had hoped the Yankees wouldn't let it change the way they do business, but obviously it has.