It appears there will be no A-Rod baseball comeback in 2017.
Former Yankee Alex Rodriguez, who was unconditionally released by the Bombers last August, is not going to try to play for another club this year, and will instead fulfill his commitment as a “special advisor” to Yankee owner Hal Steinbrenner, according to Rodriguez’s spokesman.
“Alex is enjoying his time off and looking forward to heading to spring training to work with the young guys as he has said all along,” Ron Berkowitz, A-Rod’s spokesman, told the Daily News Wednesday.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman also told The News that he had heard “nothing new” on Rodriguez and any baseball playing desires in 2017.
“He’s certainly invited to participate in spring training,” said Cashman. “But Alex is also free to do as he pleases, if he wants to try and keep playing. We welcome the opportunity for him to impact our young players at spring training. Alex would work directly for Hal (Steinbrenner). All the parameters have been vocalized and they remain the same from last year. He’s got a life to live too, and I’m sure he’s going to have a lot of opportunities in broadcasting, in business. People will be tugging him in a lot of different directions.”
A-Rod was a Fox Sports analyst during the 2015 and 2016 postseasons.
The star-crossed slugger, who generated an unending supply of headlines during his pinstriped tenure, has 696 career home runs, fourth on the all-time list behind Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth. After serving a season-long doping suspension in 2014 – the Major League Baseball-administered discipline stemmed from A-Rod’s ties to the Biogenesis doping scandal – Rodriguez had a strong 2015 season, batting .250 with 33 homers.
But in 2016, Rodriguez’s production tailed off significantly. The Yankee designated hitter struggled at the plate and finished with a .200 average and nine homers in 65 games played. The Yankees still owe Rodriguez a guaranteed $21 million for 2017, the last year of his whopping 10-year, $275 million contract he signed with the Bombers in 2007.
Even if the 41-year-old Rodriguez has a change of heart, it would be a stretch to think another team would sign him, however, given his age and his PED baggage. One baseball source said there is a glut of hitters available who “are much better hitters and much younger” than Rodriguez.
Days before his release last year, Rodriguez told reporters at Citi Field that he was comfortable with whatever fate awaited him in the future.
“I’m one of the luckiest human beings on the planet,” Rodriguez said. “I respect everything Cashman’s doing. I trust Hal Steinbrenner’s plan. I forever will be a Yankee fan. I hope I can contribute. I hope I can stay here for the remainder of my contract (through 2017). I’m completely committed. But if not, I have two beautiful daughters waiting for me in Miami.”