Ryan Lawrence: A-Rod to Phils? Doesn't hurt to ask

Posted: October 24, 2012

YOU NEED a car, and more specifically, a sports car.

You just watched "Homeland" and that spiffy Camaro that Mike the Marine drives looks like a winner. You need a car and you want a Camaro.

You drive to your buddy's dealership and he has two Camaros on his lot.

The first is a right-off-the-factory line ZL1 with a supercharged engine and an odometer filled with zeroes. He's asking $60,000.

The second Camaro is a silver 1969 with a body that was restored several years ago. It has a lot of miles on it, but the engine purrs with a sound sweeter than any car you've ever heard. Sticker price: $57,000.

But then there's a catch: To get the first car, you have to pay every penny of the aforementioned price. To get the '69, your buddy, for whatever reason - perhaps because he thinks you'll lend it to him whenever he comes calling - says he'll take $12,000.

The new car will get you through the next decade, and while you'll make steep payments, you know it's going to be reliable. The older car is all about potential: You'll either be the envy of your neighborhood, or you'll be looking for a car again in a few years.

But you can't beat that price.

Alex Rodriguez is not a Camaro. He's not even a sports car anymore. Maybe a Fiat? But the idea of buying a classic Camaro at a bottom-dollar price isn't all that different from taking a chance on a future Hall of Fame infielder who has seen better days.

Less than a week ago, while the New York Yankees were in the process of being swept out of the playoffs for the first time in 32 years, a report surfaced that the Marlins had discussions about a trade that would bring A-Rod to Miami. The most intriguing part of the rumor: The Yankees would pay almost all of the $114 million remaining on his contract.

With Rodriguez' benching in the postseason, his ties to Miami, and Jeffrey Loria's unbalanced and unorthodox approach to building teams, it wasn't exactly the kind of wild rumor that you could simply swat away, although that's what New York general manager Brian Cashman did last week.

But the fact that a player who was considered one of the best in baseball as recently as a few years ago might be available is at least interesting. The fact that said player happens to play third base is at least intriguing if you're the Philadelphia Phillies.

In case you've managed to forget all about the 2012 season - which might be a good thing - you might recall that third base was a black hole in the infield at Citizens Bank Park this season.

If you knew New York was shopping Rodriguez - and that the deep-pocketed Yanks were willing to eat a large portion of the contract - would you place a call if you were Ruben Amaro Jr.?

Of course you would. It can't hurt to ask, right?

First, the laundry list of reasons you should have reservations:

A-Rod, who turns 38 in July, is older than Roy Halladay and older than the injury-plagued, aging infielders in Philadelphia, too. Even if someone else is paying most of his contract, it's a contract that still keeps him in your uniform until age 41.

A-Rod is also injury-plagued, averaging 110 games in the last two seasons.

In addition to the $114 million remaining on his contract, A-Rod is owed $3 million in January 2014 as part of a signing bonus. And he will be owed $6 million when he hits his 13th home run of the 2013 season, which is part of the $30 million home-run milestone bonuses in his contract. Oh, and A-Rod has a no-trade clause that he would have to be willing to waive, for which he could very well ask a couple million. So you're hoping New York is assuming all of that cash, too.

A-Rod is in rapid decline. After hitting .302 with a .995 OPS and 119 home runs from 2007-09, he has hit .272 with a .819 OPS and 64 homers in the last 3 years.

But it was also just three autumns ago when A-Rod hit .365 with six home runs in 15 games in the 2009 postseason, the one that ended with his Yankees beating the reigning world champion Phillies. Perhaps a change of scenery would bode well for Rodriguez' slumping image and bat.

The Phillies need a third baseman and the options on the free-agent market are dismal. The Phillies need at least one middle-of-the-order bat, a righthanded power threat.

Rodriguez might not be getting any younger, but you can say the same for the rest of the core players in Philadelphia. Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz and Halladay are entering the final year of their contracts, so perhaps you go for broke in 2013.

If New York is willing to eat a large chunk of the contract just to make Rodriguez go away (a very big "if" that should not be ignored), it's worth listening. If the Yankees don't make you part with a premium prospect as a result of them assuming said large chunk of contract (an even bigger "if"), it's worth talking about.

Trading for Rodriguez, paying him as little as a fourth of his contract each year, and waiting for him to return to MVP form again is fantasy talk. But if the price is right, it's a gamble that might be worth considering, too.

Contact Ryan Lawrence at rlawrence@phillynews.com.

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