I’m not going to go all “blame A-Rod” here. The fact is that baseball’s active home run leader wasn’t half bad on Monday night. He lined into a double play in his first at-bat, but that as just bad luck: the ball was scalded. He had a clean single his second time up.
Of course, that was pretty much it. Rodriguez went up to the plate three more times: he flied out in the fifth and then struck out in the seventh and ninth. The second strikeout ended the game as the Orioles won 3-2 to even the best-of-five series.
In all, Rodriguez has five strikeouts to go along with his single and a walk in 10 plate appearances against the Orioles. He did finish the regular season okay, going 6-for-15 with four walks and three strikeouts in his last four games. However, he was in a 2-for-24 slump before that. He has one extra-base since Sept. 14 and one RBI since Sept. 19.
In short, Rodriguez looks like the easiest out in the Yankees lineup right now. He’s not getting around on good fastballs, and when he does get a mistake breaking ball, he’s not driving it out of the park. It’s not that Rodriguez can’t hit in the playoffs or needs to be benched or any of that nonsense. It’s just that with the way he looks right now — and with the way he’s looked pretty much the whole year — he’s probably more of a No. 6 hitter than a guy who should be hitting ahead of Robinson Cano. Switching him and Mark Teixeira would make a lot of sense.
Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.
Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.
The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.
In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler Austin–Greg Bird combo in 2017.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.
Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.