Last week, New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner told media members that he is fully expecting Alex Rodriguez back to the team in 2015 following his season-long suspension from the 2014 season from his involvement in Biogenesis.
A-Rod, who was initially suspended for 211 games and had his suspension reduced to 162 games (plus the postseason if the Yankees get that far) has been training down at the University of Miami and at UCLA getting himself prepared for the upcoming season as he is still guaranteed $61 million over the next three seasons from the Yankees; money that Steinbrenner wants A-Rod to earn his salary as opposed to buying out his contract.
While there have been a lot of fans who are opposed to A-Rod stepping foot in Yankee Stadium wearing the pinstripes again, the fact of the matter is this; the Yankees bringing back A-Rod for the 2015 season and beyond is ultimately the best decision for both sides.
For A-Rod, it gives himself a chance at redemption for the tarnished career he now has. His Hall of Fame chances are likely very dim, but that's neither here nor there. What A-Rod can do is come back in 2015 and try to write the end of his career and not allow Bud Selig to choose his ending for him. A-Rod can play the underdog role, the comeback story, the guy looking for a second chance. Fans love that kind of stuff, but only if A-Rod truly is sorry for his past and getting involved with Biogenesis because right now, the Yankees and their 2014 lineup sorely miss him and they could use him right about now, whether at third base or the DH spot.
For the Yankees side, bringing A-Rod back into the fold for 2015 gives them another marketing draw for their season; especially if the Yankees miss the postseason again in 2014. A-Rod, even at 39-years old, still has enough star power and draw as a baseball figure to bring in an audience and the fans; even if some of those fans are there in the ballpark just to boo him or hope he fails. The bottom line for the Yankees is that those fans have paid for a ticket; and in business, selling tickets is what it all comes down to. A-Rod's return last season sold tickets both at home and on the road, and next season, his return will once again sell tickets because people will want to see how his return goes after a year away from baseball.
Now some people have wondered if a 39-year old can still play regularly after a year away from baseball? Well, A-Rod last season as a 38-year-old came back after not playing baseball for almost 10 months following hip surgery, played 44 games for the Yankees and despite hitting .244, he did hit seven home runs and 19 RBI. The .244 average was once in the .270 and .280 range, but because A-Rod didn't have a full six-week spring training schedule under him to get his body and legs ready, his calves and legs wore down and the drive he had in his swing wasn't there at the end of September.
Now, A-Rod, after over a full year of rest, will be healthy for really the first time since the 2011 season. He'll have fully recovered from the hip surgery of last year, the hand surgery of 2012, the knee surgery of 2011 and every other ache and pain he had that ached him over the last couple of years. Even a 39-year old A-Rod can still give the Yankees something with a bat, even if he can't play the field full-time. The Yankees don't need a 39-year-old A-Rod to be a Gold Glove third basemen, they need him to be a run producer, which is what he was able to do last year for a short time.
The Yankees also know it's better for them to pay A-Rod $21.5 million in 2015 to play for them next year and hope to help them as opposed to buying out his deal and still on hook for that money, then having a team like the Toronto Blue Jays, the Tampa Bay Rays, the Baltimore Orioles. or some other American League team in need of power, pay him minimal money and have him help them and potentially, hurt the Yankees; and all on their payroll too.
While there will be those fans who may never forgive A-Rod, they will need to come to grasp with the reality of A-Rod being a member of the Yankees in the 2015 season, which for both sides, is best for business.
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