Not even to the World Series yet and the rumor mill is in full force, this time linking Alex Rodriguezto the Marlins in a potential offseason trade that, ironically, started out as a joke between Yankees president Randy Levine and Miami owner Jeffrey Loria.
And, of course, the story is already getting legs.
According to ESPN, a source close to the future Hall of Famer said that the Marlins would likely be the “only place” the former Miami-native would accept a trade too.
It’s really not a secret that Rodriguez, who once seemed destine to break Barry Bonds’ homerun record, is in decline – steep decline. He hasn’t played more than 138 games since 2007, and at 37 he’s nothing but a shell of his former self.
So, if I’m the Marlins, what’s the bare minimum amount of money I need from the Yankees for this trade to work?
As I wrote earlier in the season, Rodriguez will likely be overpaid by about, oh, $127 million at the duration of his current contract. To put that into perspective, that’s pretty much the total amount of money the Giants overpaid for Barry Zito, who, as I mentioned previously, is often recognized as one of the worst contracts in the game.
But overpaying a declining superstar for Rodriguez and still having value are two completely different things, because A-Rod still provides a decent amount of production at this point in his career.
Over the past three seasons, Rodriguez averaged just about 0.007 wins above replacement (FanGraphs version) per plate appearance, or about 3.9 wins per 550 PA.
Now this season he’s declined rather sharply, all the way down to 2.2 fWAR. His offense, which was 25% better than the league average in 2010 and 2011, dropped to only 14% above the average. It’s clearly not what he’s shown in the past. But, again, 14% above the league average is still productive.
While his BABIP and walk and strikeout rates all remain close to his career norms, his power has shown some serious signs of permanent decline, as his ISO dropped from .331 to .271 to .245 to .236 to .236 to .185 to .158. And as anyone can attest too, his bat looks noticeably slower this postseason.
So, what’s the future hold for him over the next five years?
Well, given the type of power decline he’s shown coupled with his three-year fWAR average and advancing age, we’ll assume he can post about a 2.5-win season next year, followed by two 2.0-win seasons before declining to 1.5 and finally 1.0.
And given the current going rate of $5 million per win with 5% inflation, he’s likely to be worth about 6.5 wins, or $51 million in production. The difference between what he’s paid – $114M – versus what he’ll likely be worth – $51 – is just about $63M.
But that doesn’t account for the homerun milestones, another $30M, he may or may not achieve.
If I’m Miami, who clearly has all the leverage, I demand the Yankees pay $100 million. The $63M in difference in production; the $30M just in case he breaks the records (he won’t) and $7 million in additional injury risk (basically cancelling out his final season in production because he’ll likely be riding the bench or at least no longer a full time starter). At this point the Marlins may have to pony up a mid-level prospect, though, to get the deal done.
Either way, the Yankees have to know it’s going to take close to $100 million to keep the conversation rolling.
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