Brian Cashman: Alex Rodriguez now Yankees’ full-time designated hitter
New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman revealed on Tuesday that it apparently is the team’s intent to have Alex Rodriguez serve as its full-time designated hitter, not as the de facto third baseman.
The GM confirmed during a conversation with the Associated Press that Chase Headley, who signed a four-year, $52 million deal with the Yankees this week, will be the team’s starting third baseman heading into spring training.
“I can’t expect Alex to be anything,” Cashman said during a telephone interview with the AP, per The New York Times. “I’ve got to think the worst and hope for the best. Even before the suspension, he wasn’t the same player at third base on the defensive or offensive side. And that was before the suspension.”
Rodriguez clearly is in the latter stages of his career and is coming off a season-long suspension for violating the league’s Performance Enhancing Drugs policy in the wake of the Biogenesis scandal. He is 39 years old and coming off several seasons during which injuries have been an issue. In fact, A-Rod hasn’t played a full season since 2007.
His inability to stay in the lineup has resulted in a precipitous drop in offensive productivity, leading to 16 homers in in 2011 and 19 round-trippers in 2012.
Cashman acknowledged Rodriguez’s advancing age and diminishing productivity when mentioning that the veteran will be competing with Martin Prado for playing time at third base behind Headley.
“And now he’s been out of the game for a year. He’s approaching 40 years of age,” Cashman said. “And just to automatically assume given his circumstances that he’ll be able to plug right in, play third as an everyday guy and hold up and be productive, I think that would be dangerous thinking from my perspective, in the seat I’m sitting in.”
Cashman continued, suggesting that given everything that has transpired, it would be best for the team — and perhaps for even A-Rod himself — is if Rodriguez dedicates himself to becoming a productive designated hitter.
“So given all that circumstance, we look forward to him hopefully solidifying himself as a tremendous DH for us, and if he shows he has retained athleticism, then he can play third as a choice when Joe decides to give Headley a rest,” Cashman said. “He can compete for Joe’s thought process, whether it’s Prado swinging over or Alex playing third.”
Cashman arguably appeared to be setting up this ultimate eventuality and arguable demotion by hinting last week that Rodriguez was out of shape by saying he needed to lose some weight before spring training.
It will be interesting to see the fallout of his comments — especially how Rodriguez reacts to the news — but for now, Cashman has laid all his cards out on the table as it relates to disgraced former superstar.
On the other hand, Yankees manager Joe Girardi, in comments that at least perhaps helped hedge his bets, said in November that he was looking forward to A-Rod’s return to the lineup. If that return involved having Rodriguez serve as DH from Girardi’s perspective is unknown.
When asked if he had personally informed Rodriguez of how the team intends to use the now-former starting third baseman during the 2015 MLB season, Cashman appeared to deliver a subtle shot.
“I don’t need to. I’ve been very consistent with my conversations publicly from October on,” Cashman said. “I have not heard from Alex on any of that, and I know he reads all this stuff.”
(photo credit: NOAH K. MURRAY/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports)