How A-Rod Can Affect the Mets

Alex Rodriguez with wife CynthiaIt’s premature to start thinking about the offseason intentions of Alex Rodriguez — from what I understand, the postseason is still happening (when the Mets stop playing, I stop watching). However, it’s fun to dream up “what ifs”.

Presuming A-Rod opts out of his Yankee contract and goes on the free market, there will be a handful of bidders who can afford him. My non-educated guesses:

  • Baltimore Orioles
  • Boston Red Sox
  • New York Yankees
  • Chicago Cubs
  • Los Angeles California Angels of Anaheim, San Jose, Napa Valley, the West Coast in General and the United States

There are probably other teams out there with more cash than we know (San Francisco Giants?), but let’s leave the list as is. What, no Mets? Then why are we wasting our time thinking about A-Rod?

Here’s my thought: a team may need to shed a big salary in order to take on the $35M+ commitment that Alex Rodriguez (and Scott Boras) will demand. There aren’t many other teams with deep enough pockets to take on a big salary, who won’t already be in on the bidding. The Mets likely won’t be bidding, but do have bucks — particularly if Tom Glavine, Paul LoDuca, and several other free-agents come off the books.

That said, some possible scenarios:

Orioles

O’s owner Peter Angelos loves to throw money at big-name free agents, and A-Rod is the cream of all crops. But Miguel Tejada is already at shortstop, already making a bundle, and has been something of a malcontent lately. IF Tejada were willing to move to second base, then either Angelos could send him (and the $25M owed on his contract) to the Mets for pitching and outfield prospects. If Tejada is willing to move to 2B and Angelos decides to keep him, then the O’s need to move Brian Roberts. The Orioles also have a logjam at catcher, with Ramon Hernandez — a guy the Mets coveted two years ago — and up-and-coming J.R. House. Who knows, if Angelos is willing to go on one of his wild, illogical spending sprees, he might be willing to take on the rest of Carlos Delgado’s contract as well. A-Rod or no A-Rod, the Mets and Orioles could be trade partners this winter.

Red Sox

The Bosox originally traded for A-Rod — sending Manny away — until the MLBPA stepped in. My thinking is that they’ll pounce on a second chance to steal Rodriguez away from the Evil Empire — at any cost. They could keep him at third base and let MVP candidate Mike Lowell walk, or keep Lowell and install A-Rod at shortstop — then deal Julio Lugo to the Mets, where he can take over at second base. However, Theo Epstein might have to shed some salary to make room for Rodriguez on the payroll — and send Manny Ramirez Sheaward as well. Manny has one year at $20M left on his deal, plus team options for ’09 and ’10.

It’s a longshot, but the logistics make sense for all involved. The Red Sox have wanted to rid themselves of Manny for years, but couldn’t replace his bat — they can with A-Rod. Having A-Rod means they can justify sending away Manny, which clears a big chunk of payroll in ’08 and removes them from the painful decision of the option years. In addition, one would assume they’d get a up-and-coming outfielder in return — Lastings Milledge? — as well as another useful part.

From the Mets point of view, they get one of the best hitters in MLB as a one-year rental with the option of keeping him around if he behaves (and performs). It would be a gamble, for sure — on many fronts — but Omar Minaya likes to make big splashes. If the Mets can get a second baseman of Lugo’s caliber in the deal as well, even better. There’s no question the Mets are playing for a World Championship in ’08, and pulling the trigger on a Manny deal would be a serious statement toward that goal.

Angels

I don’t see a deal with these guys — nothing matches up. Though, if they wanted to “dump” Vladimir Guerrero and his contract on the Mets, I’m sure Omar would listen.

Yankees

Ain’t gonna happen. With Clemens and Abreu off the books, plus Giambi, Pettitte, Pavano, and Mussina (among others) coming off after ’08, the Yanks have a windfall of cash — enough to afford TWO A-Rods.

Cubs

A real longshot, but you’d have to think that the Cubs would need to dump salary to fit A-Rod into the plans. Would they deal Alfonso Soriano, so early in his contract? Derrek Lee has almost $40M left on his deal, which goes through 2010 — though there is a no-trade clause. Probably nothing brewing here.

Conclusion

Again, this is all very premature … for all we know, the Yankees will re-negotiate an extension on A-Rod’s contract before he tests the waters. This was more for fun, and to spark some debate. What do you think? Are there other teams that I may have missed, that could match up with the Mets in a similar scenario? Do you think the Mets will be affected at all by what Rodriguez decides? Will the METS be a bidder? Post your thoughts.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. metbaseball October 5, 2007 at 7:43 am
    Doesn’t Lugo prefer to play shortstop?

    The metbaseball blogger

  2. joe October 5, 2007 at 7:52 am
    Lugo played 2B in the past with the Rays and Dodgers, and was considered an option there for the Mets and other teams pursuing him last winter. I think he’d make the move fairly seamlessly, and believe he’d be open to it.
  3. metbaseball October 5, 2007 at 8:18 am
    Joe,

    Lugo was a free agent before the 2007 season, one the Mets considered signing. They decided not to then. If they decide to trade for him now that would make me even more suspect of Minaya’s competence.

    The metbaseball blogger

  4. joe October 5, 2007 at 8:27 am
    I remember them deciding not to sign Lugo because they were committing to Jose Valentin and saving their money for Dice-K / Zito / Igawa. They also weren’t ready to commit to 4 years for him — they saw Valentin as a cheap stopgap and knew Castillo would be available this winter.

    Would you really find Omar incompetent if he brought Lugo to NY along with Manny?

  5. metbaseball October 5, 2007 at 11:21 am
    Manny is too high ego for me.

    And Lugo? It would depend on who the Mets would have to give up to get him.

  6. joe October 5, 2007 at 11:58 am
    I wouldn’t worry about it … this was all pure conjecture. What’s a Mets offseason without a Manny rumor, anyway?
  7. […] Earlier this month, we took a premature look at how A-Rod’s departure from the Bronx could affect the Mets. […]