(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Sunday, August 7, 2016, 1:32 AM
Naturally there is mystery and drama right to the presumed end, because there always is with Alex Rodriguez.
Yes, it’s only fitting that the Yankees had everyone guessing on Saturday night as to exactly how they will part ways with A-Rod, after announcing an 11 a.m. Sunday press conference at Yankee Stadium, while offering no additional details.
It has been in the works for awhile now, that was becoming painfully obvious as Joe Girardi hemmed and hawed his way through answers every day about why A-Rod wasn’t playing and when he might play again.
They have no use for him, in part because his career has gone over the cliff at age 41 this season, and in part because the Yankees have officially moved into a rebuilding era after trading stars for prospects at the trade deadline.
It was a simpler matter for Mark Teixeira to announce his retirement, effective at the end of the season, as he did Friday, since his contract expires at the end of this season.
With A-Rod it never seems to be simple. It’s all about the money, of course, the $ 6-7 million or so he’s got coming the rest of this season and the $ 21 million next season, the final year of his contract.
Hard feelings also linger toward A-Rod for some in the organization, even if they won’t admit it, going back to his let’s-sue-everybody plan of attack in trying to dodge the season-long suspension he finally received for using PEDs, missing the 2014 season.
According to sources, the issue has been convincing Hal Steinbrenner to eat the money, but now clearly there is a resolution at hand, and it sounds as if it’s an amicable one, as the Yankees announced that Girardi and GM Brian Cashman will be in attendance at the A-Rod press conference.
So the question, then, is whether Steinbrenner was convinced to eat the remainder of the contract, since the money is already spent anyway and A-Rod is giving them virtually no return on it.
Or did A-Rod agree to a buyout of some kind? A source close to him has long maintained that A-Rod would want every last penny of what’s owed to him on that 10-year, $ 275 million contract the Yankees gave him after he opted out in the fall of 2007.
But would A-Rod consider surrendering some of next year’s salary if the Yankees were willing to give him at least semi-regular at-bats until he hits four more home runs, thereby reaching 700 for his career?
It’s an intriguing thought, anyway.
Of course, if A-Rod’s home run total weren’t so badly tainted by his years of PED use, the Yankees almost surely would want to keep him around to join Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, and Babe Ruth as the only players to hit 700 or more home runs.
Instead it’s an empty number for the franchise, and probably for most fans as well.
But it may be meaningful to A-Rod. Meaningful enough to essentially pay for at-bats until he breaks the 700 mark? That would be fascinating.
Obviously the Yankees want to get at-bats for their younger players now, especially catcher Gary Sanchez. But in his two starts behind the plate, Sanchez has already demonstrated that he’s improved significantly there, so perhaps the Yankees will want him catching regularly rather than doing a lot of DHing.
In that case, Brian McCann would figure to play a lot as the DH, but it’s very possible he’ll be gone by next season, as the Yankees will try hard to trade him during the off-season.
But they may want to call up first baseman Tyler Austin, who is having a strong year in Triple-A, and it seems they’re committed to keeping Teixeira the rest of the way.
In any case, it’s not as if A-Rod is any type of problem in the clubhouse. He hasn’t said a word in protest about not playing, as he wants to stay around the game for years to come, most likely in the TV role for which he drew praise last postseason, working for FOX.
In fact, A-Rod seems to enjoy being around the ballclub even when he’s not playing, regarding himself as a mentor to some of the younger players.
And, after all, his roster spot is only an issue for another three-plus weeks, before rosters expand in September, at which time the Yankees could call up as many young players as they desire.
Nevertheless, it seems more likely the Yankees will cut ties, effective immediately, in some manner. They still want to sell the idea that they’re in the wild-card race, and clearly they don’t believe that playing A-Rod is the best way to try to win games.
One way or another, there will be drama right up to the morning press conference. It couldn’t end any other way for A-Rod.