A brick-and-mortar “Bad Contracts Hall of Fame” will probably never exist. If it did, Alex Rodriguez’s current pact would be a sure-fire, first-ballot lock. Hell, it’d be the Tom Seaver of bad contracts.
Rodriguez’s 10-year, $275 million dollar deal he signed in 2008 that runs through 2017 has been in the news a lot lately, specifically the remaining four years and $100 million owed to the hobbled third-baseman who’s staring down a trip to the Biogenesis guillotine. Even before he faced rumored lifetime bans from MLB, paying $20 million to a 42-year-old was bad business. This contract was poison from the start, as it began with Rodriguez opting out of his previous big-money deal and announcing the news in the middle of Game 4 in the 2007 World Series.
However you frame it, the Rodriguez contract is classic Yankee arrogance. It also includes a $6 million bonus clauses when Rodriguez passes Willie Mayes, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds on the all-time home run list. Rodriguez, who’s yet to play this season, has 647, which puts him 13 behind the Say Hey Kid.
As great as it would be if Rodriguez were suspended for life, any lengthy suspension ends up helping the Yankees since it would get them off the hook for the A-Rod $100 million albatross. Part of why Yankees brass was keen to lock up Rodriguez was his assault on the record book – remember this was pre-Cousin Yuri and Biogenesis. Rodriguez’s homers would be a marketing tool, another chance to produce a string of ‘Yankeeographys’ on YES, sell a bunch of swag via Steiner Sports and, above all, inflate the pinstripe mythology.
Now nobody cares. Nobody is going to get wrapped up in Rodriguez passing Mays or hitting 700 homers. He’s been disgraced and labeled a fraud in the court of public opinion. If anything, this is probably why MLB is so hell bent on trying to give Rodriguez a lifetime ban so his name doesn’t end up passing Ruth and Aaron in the record books. (Passing Bonds? Well … they could probably live with that.)
Even if Rodriguez is allowed back on the field there’s no indication he’ll be able to hit another 100 or so homers before the contract runs out. Rodriguez’s slugging percentage has dropped in five straight seasons. It’s declined from .645 when since he hit 54 homers in 2007 to .430 in 122 games last season. Injuries and age appear to be catching up with him. Right now the lasting image of Rodriguez the baseball player is strikeout after strikeout last October.
All of this means if you’re a person who hates the Yankees or a fan of a baseball team in a small market, hope Rodriguez appeals any suspension from MLB and his high-priced lawyers can cast a big enough pall over the credibility of Biogenesis ringleader Anthony Bosch. Hope that the now cost-conscious Yankees are stuck writing $20+ million checks to rapidly declining Rodriguez the next three seasons, instead of using that money to sign other, more useful players.
In short, make the Yankees pay for their hubris.