Alex Rodriguez's tenure with the Yankees is in question after his alleged in-game shenanigans and continuing playoff struggles, but people close to the situation say the Yankees and Marlins so far had only a lighthearted exchange, and no serious trade discussions.
One person described the late-April conversation as a “joke'' between rivals, and suggested there is nothing going on between the teams now. The teams were playing late in spring training to open new Marlins Park when the joking occurred. There's no evidence of any real talk since then.
The conversation at the time went something like this, according to a person familiar with it.
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria: "Alex is Mr. Miami. Maybe he should play for us.''
Yankees president Randy Levine: "You can have him.''
The banter was viewed as a joke, and there's no evidence it has been re-visited since.
Keith Olbermann created a stir when he reported on MLB.com that the two teams have “held discussions" regarding A-Rod. While that is technically true, sources indicate there has not yet been an exchange of offers. Olbermann's piece suggested the Yankees would either pay all or almost all of the $114 million remaining over five more years on Rodriguez's deal, or possibly take back embattled reliever Heath Bell and pay a bit less.
The Yankees say there is no trade talk during the playoffs.
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However, it wouldn't be a shocker if the Yankees at least tried to find a new home for A-Rod following an episode in which he was outted in the New York Post for trying to pick up two young ladies behind the dugout by sending a baseball to them with a note on it. This supposedly occurred during Game 1, after A-Rod had been pulled for a pinch hitter, the paper reported.
Both Yankees manager Joe Girardi and GM Brian Cashman declined comment on the alleged pick-up episode. But Rodriguez didn't start in Game 3 against Tigers ace Justin Verlander even though A-Rod was 4 for 6 with two home runs against Verlander this year. He also didn't appear to be even a pinch-hit candidate late.
It's true A-Rod has been awful in the playoffs, especially against right-handers. But compared to his teammates, he's no worse. He also hit two balls hard his last two times up in Game 1, a fact hitting coach Kevin Long mentioned prominently.
That was before “flirtgate'' however.
It's pretty clear the Yankees are fed up, or close to it. But several hurdles to any deal may prevent it:
--A-Rod has veto power over trades, and is believed to still love the attention he gets in New York. He laughed off this incident and he is almost impervious to it all now. Rodriguez, who mugged for the camera and mouthed “Hi mom,'' during Game 3, has always fancied himself the big player on the big stage. “He will never leave New York,'' one friend said;
--There is a limited number of teams A-Rod might even consider – and that's if he would consider anyone else. Los Angeles, which has the money, might be one. While Miami is his hometown, Rodriguez wants to play for a World series contender, and they'd have to make some improvements to get there after their disastrous inaugural season in new Marlins Park.
--The money still could be an issue. It's no given the Yankees would be willing to pay “all or close to all'' of the $114 million to go, and at this point, with things souring in New York, other teams would certainly ask it. There is also the matter of a potential $30 million to go in home run "plateau'' payments. Though of course, the Yankees are one team that can be flexible when it comes to cash.