Sources: A-Rod Thinks He May Never Return To Yankees, Could Be Eyeing Retirement
Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez believes that the team does "not want him to return this season, and perhaps ever again" in the wake of injury troubles and PED allegations, according to a source cited by Wallace Matthews of ESPN N.Y. The source said that Rodriguez "thinks the Yankees are deliberately slowing his return to their active roster in the hope they can have him declared medically unfit to play this season, enabling them to recoup 80 percent of his $28 million salary through insurance." Yankees GM Brian Cashman this week said of Rodriguez updating his injury status via his personal Twitter account, "Alex should just shut the f--- up." The source added that Rodriguez "felt the GM's response was 'over the top,' and cemented his belief that the Yankees have been looking for ways to rid themselves" of the 10-year, $275M contract they gave him after the '07 season. The source said that Rodriguez "believes the Yankees are delaying his return hoping time will run out for him to come back this season," or that MLB will "hand down a lengthy suspension for his alleged involvement with Miami-area anti-aging clinic Biogenesis and its founder, Anthony Bosch." Both Cashman and team President Randy Levine "strongly denied that the Yankees would prefer A-Rod not return to play this season" (ESPNNY.com, 6/26). In N.Y. George King III cites a source as saying that Rodriguez "informed Yankees officials in Tampa yesterday he isn’t ready to begin a minor league rehab assignment because his surgically repaired hip isn’t up to the task." The source also said that there is "speculation Rodriguez could use the hip problem to retire." That would "allow him to collect the $114 million owed to him." Should Rodriguez "retire because of a medical problem, he would avoid a possible suspension by MLB in the Biogenesis mess" (N.Y. POST, 6/27).
YANKS' FUTURE MOVES: Levine on Tuesday said that the Yankees' "desire to trim their payroll to below the luxury-tax threshold" of $189M for next season "will not hinder their ability to improve the roster this summer if it meant adding salary." In N.Y., Ben Shpigel notes the Yankees want to "cut about" $30M before '14 "so they can qualify for rebates and luxury-tax savings." Levine said, "We'll see what happens and hopefully we can accomplish both at the same time." Referring to Yankees Managing General Partner & co-Chair Hal Steinbrenner, Levine added, "The overriding goal is -- as Hal has said -- is to maintain the Yankees' desire to provide a championship team for Yankee fans all over" (NYTIMES.com, 6/25). The N.Y. Daily News' Bruce Murray said the Yankees "need to become buyers" in the trade market because the team is in the "unique situation of they're over .500 right now and you can never send the message to this fan base, which is dwindling by the way in terms of what's showing up at the ballpark, that you're not in it to win it." SportsNet N.Y.'s Sal Licata said Cashman is "going to have to make a decision because you cannot sit back and be patient and rely on these guys" returning from the disabled list to help the team. SNY's Adam Schein said, "I'm not making a trade. Who are they going to trade? For what? For who? This is still a last-place team no matter what." Licata added, "But this is the Yankees. You're expected to at least make the postseason" ("Loud Mouths," SNY, 6/25).
EMPIRE STATE OF MIND: ESPN N.Y.'s Mike Mazzeo reported Yankees execs "have a grander vision" for Yankee Stadium than just hosting the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. They eventually see the venue "hosting college football playoff games." Levine said that "no such discussions have taken place, but the team will reach out to NCAA officials about the possibility in the future." He added, "This is a pretty young bowl game. We've taken a step up we believe with the Big Ten and the ACC, and we believe that after performing for a couple more years, we'll be as good as any venue there is to a host a semifinal or eventually a (national) championship game" (ESPNNY.com, 6/25).