Alex Rodriguez would not block a trade to a big market team

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Every fall I wonder what the dominant hot stove story is going to be. The one where, every time we do a post about it, someone says “I am SO SICK of this!”

Usually it’s a big free agent like Cliff Lee or Albert Pujols. Sometimes it’s the story of a little free agent — a guy past his prime — seemingly unable to ever find a team (Johnny Damon has played that part for several years now). This year it’s most definitely gonna be the A-Rod trade saga.

Why wait for the season to end to get that train a-rolling?  Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that Alex Rodriguez is telling “close friends” that he wouldn’t block a trade — as is his right — as long as it’s to certain big market teams:

He will welcome a trade, the person says, but it must to be to another big-market club. Hint: He won’t be going to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The most likely choices would be the Miami Marlins, Los Angeles Angels, Chicago White Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

We’ve talked about the Marlins — I could see them doing something like that and A-Rod lives in Miami. Not sure why the Angels would want him or what they’d give the Yankees back. Same with Chicago. The Dodgers have already gone on a pretty big spending spree and it seems kinda nuts that they’d consider it.

I guess less important than handicapping possible destinations, however, is figuring how much of the $114 million remaining on his contract the Yankees would be willing to eat. Probably a ton.  If so, and if Rodriguez’s effective salary to a suitor is sufficiently low, any number of people would be willing to take a chance on him, I reckon.  Because even if he isn’t what he once was, he still is an above average hitter who could conceivably rebound to for a year or two into some approximation of what he once was. Especially if you think that his current woes are health-related.

It would not be at all shocking for this stuff to heat up soon, so prepare yourself for A-Rod-a-palooza, people. It’s gonna pretty much dominate the offseason.

The Giants are winning but they’re still gonna sell

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The state of baseball in general, the state of the National League in particular and the state of the San Francisco Giants as a competitor are conspiring to create what seems like at least a mildly absurd situation.

The Giants, a veteran-laden team that, as recently as this past offseason but definitely within the past couple of years, were at least talking about being on a win-now footing, just swept a four-game series, have won five straight games and have won 12 of 14 to pull themselves to within two and a half games of a playoff spot.

Yet, that’s all for temporary show, because they’re about to sell off. At least according to Jeff Passan at ESPN. Giants president Farhan Zaidi tried to push back on that in a radio interview yesterday, denying that the club has foreclosed the possibility of a postseason push, but I’m not really buying that and I don’t think most people are.

On one level it makes sense to ignore the recent surge and forge on with a rebuild. Sure, the Giants are winning but they’re not exactly good. They’re two and a half out of the Wild Card, but there are many teams ahead of them. There’s a lot of reason to think that they’re playing in good fortune right now and that that, rather than finding some extra gear of sustainable better play, is what’s to credit. Hot streaks can happen at any time but the trade deadline only comes once a year. When you have the best starter available in Madison Bumgarner and the best reliever available in Will Smith, you gotta make those deals. That’s what I’d probably do if I ran the Giants and I think that that’s, wisely, what Zaidi will do.

Still, it’s an odd look, less for the Giants specifically than for baseball as a whole. We may in an era of cheap front offices who don’t like to contend if it means spending money, but it’s unfair to paint the Giants with that brush. They’ve spent money and acquired talent and have done whatever they can to extend their 2010-2014 mini-dynasty a few more years and in doing so they’ve made a lot of fans happy. That team has pretty much reached the end and, even in an earlier, more competitive era, they’d not be properly criticized for starting in on a rebuild. Heck, they’d be excused if they had done it a year or two earlier, frankly.

But, because so many teams have punted on improving themselves, these aging Giants are at least superficially competitive. As such, when they do sell off in the coming days, it’ll look to some like they’re waving a white flag or something when they’re not really doing that. I mean, the Rockies and the Pirates, among other teams, should be much better than they are but didn’t seem all that interested in improving, thereby helping the Giants look better, right? It’s less a knock on the Giants for rebuilding when they’re within striking distance of the playoffs than it is on the rest of the league for allowing a team like the Giants to be within striking distance of a playoff spot.

But that’s where we are right now. An insanely competitive Wild Card race from teams that, on the whole, are rather unconcerned with being competitive. What a time to be a baseball fan.