The Yankees Had A Chance To Ship Alex Rodriguez To Japan And Didn’t Pursue It

  • Eric Goldschein

alex rodriguezBelieve it or not, there was a professional baseball team willing to take on Alex Rodriguez’s enormous contract even after his miserable 2012 postseason run. Not a Major League Baseball team, mind you, but a team nonetheless. Unfortunately for the Yankees — and, in a way, A-Rod — they did not pursue the opportunity, and now they’re stuck with a big fat lump of damaged, allegedly PED-ridden goods. Oh well.

According to the New York Times, the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks made an “unofficial” inquiry about a possible transfer for Rodriguez, willing to take on the remaining $100 million-plus owed to him, for some reason. (Ticket sales? Pity?) The Yankees never responded, and here’s why:

The Yankees never engaged the Hawks in discussions because they knew it could not work for two obvious reasons. At the time, the Yankees knew that Rodriguez needed extensive hip surgery that would sideline him at least half the season. They would have been obliged to inform the Hawks, and at that point, their interest would almost certainly have crumbled.

But even more important, the Yankees knew there was no chance that Rodriguez would agree to the transfer at this point in his career. So the matter was simply dropped. A few weeks later, the Yankees announced that Rodriguez had a torn labrum in his hip and would require surgery and a lengthy rehabilitation.

Between the lines “almost certainly have crumbled” and “no chance that [he] would agree to the transfer,” it sounds like a decision was made based on two pretty big assumptions. Perhaps the Hawks would have still entertained the possibility, and perhaps a rapidly declining A-Rod would have welcomed the chance to start over in Japan — become, say, what Stephon Marbury did to Chinese basketball and be a hero again? It’s not completely out of the question. At least worth a quick meeting, or maybe some exploratory emails.

Hindsight is 20/20, of course, and it’s easy for us to say “shoulda, coulda, woulda” now that A-Rod is… whatever he is. But it seems like the Yankees should have at least explored their chance to send A-Rod to Japan, if only for the diminished headache.

Photo via Getty