Buck Showalter steamed at Yanks’ possible A-Rod windfall
BALTIMORE – The longer Alex Rodriguez could be suspended, the more it could help the New York Yankees. And that infuriates Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter.
Forget the money and drugs — it’s competitive imbalance that has Showalter steamed.
Showalter, who managed Rodriguez on the Texas Rangers, says he has no interest in discussing the suspension possibilities surrounding the Yankees third baseman but is taking aim at how New York could benefit.
Getting Rodriguez’s $25 million salary off their 2014 books would effectively reset a Yankees payroll projected to exceed a $189 million luxury tax threshold the club hoped to slip under. And if they’re freed from the $86 million owed Rodriguez from 2014 to ’17? Showalter fears Commissioner Bud Selig’s zeal to ban Rodriguez might turn the Yankees into free agent predators again.
“If Bud lets them get away with that, they’re under the luxury tax,” Showalter told USA TODAY Sports. “If they can reset, they can spend again and I guarantee you in two years Matt Wieters is in New York.”
Wieters, the Orioles catcher, would be eligible for free agency after the 2015 season, though it’s likely the Orioles would attempt to sign the 27-year-old to an extension in the meantime.
But a Yankees ledger freed of any A-Rod commitments would alter the market for many players.
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Selig might want to come down hard on Rodriguez as part of the Biogenesis investigation, but has no choice in the luxury tax issue because the rule is part of the labor agreement.
According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the portion of a player’s salary that he does not collect while suspended also does not count toward his team’s payroll and the luxury tax threshold.
Rodriguez is to be paid $25 million in 2014. Subtract that – even the $15 million were he to be suspended 100 games – and the Yankees not only would have a better chance of staying under $189 million, but also might be able to afford to add players.
In 2007, coming off a 52-homer season that netted him a third AL MVP award, Rodriguez opted out of a 10-year, $252 million contract originally signed with the Texas Rangers. The Yankees nonetheless re-upped Rodriguez for 10 years and $275 million shortly thereafter.
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Rodriguez’s decline began almost immediately. He needed hip surgery after the 2008 season, but rebounded to play a key role in the Yankees’ run to the 2009 World Series title.
But Rodriguez’s on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) declined every season after 2007. A second hip surgery in January ensured he’d miss the first half of this season; the Biogenesis flap that broke weeks later put him in MLB’s firing line.
Now, it may give his team a get-out-of-jail-free card.
“They’re the ones who signed him to that contract,” Showalter said of the Yankees.
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