With the Yankees staring down the barrel of elimination and Alex Rodriguez awash in controversy, a rumor surfaced on Wednesday that had the $275 million man changing addresses for next year. According to Keith Olbermann — who based his report upon "sources close to both organizations" — the Marlins would be willing to trade for Rodriguez if the Yankees would "pay all — or virtually all — of the $114,000,000 remaining" on Rodriguez's contract, perhaps less of it if they take back embattled reliever Heath Bell, who still has $18 million remaining over the next two years after flopping in his first year in Miami.
If it all sounds pretty farfetched, it almost certainly is, and not only because Olbermann isn't exactly an insider who breaks such stories. My own response on Twitter was that "A-Rod is more likely to biologically transform into a marlin than he is to be traded to the Marlins." Whatever his penchant towards performance-enhancing drugs and cutting-edge science may be, he's not likely to grow fins anytime soon.
His ability to morph into Aqua-Rod aside, there's far too much here that doesn't make sense. Rodriguez still has five years remaining on his mega-contract, and while it's clear that he's no longer the offensive force that he once was, his .280 True Average (on .272/.353/.430 hitting) was still 14 points higher than the average major league third baseman. Even if he's not worth his salary, he's hardly worthless, which makes the likelihood of the Yankees sinking the entire cost extremely slim. Brian Cashman — who already shot down the rumor, by the way — isn't one to throw $100 million out the window on the basis of a bad couple of weeks.
From the Marlins' standpoint, this makes even less sense. Last winter, owner Jeffrey Loria allowed general manager Larry Beinfest to nearly double the Marlins' payroll (from $57.7 million to $101.6 million) in anticipation of the opening of their new ballpark, but despite the expensive additions of Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Bell and manager Ozzie Guillen, the team lost 93 games and still finished 12th in the National League in attendance. They shed salary at the trading deadline by trading away Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante, Hanley Ramirez and others, and are said to be aiming to get back to the $70-80 million range, with the possibility of trading ace Josh Johnson on the table, to say nothing of yet another fire sale. Even a low-cost version of an aging A-Rod will cut into what little they can spend, and while Rodriguez is from Miami, at this stage of his career, he's not exactly a gate attraction. Presenting him as such after he's been run out of New York on a rail doesn't smack of a savvy public relations move; does Loria think the fickle Marlins fans need somebody to boo and blame?