Brian Cashman’s expectations for A-Rod: low. Which is pretty smart.

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Yankees GM Brian Cashman spoke about Alex Rodriguez yesterday and he laid out the situation pretty clearly: A-Rod is likely not going to be the starting third baseman and, wherever he ends up, he’s going to have to earn his at bats:

“If I signed or traded for a third baseman, then that would be my third baseman,” Cashman said Tuesday at the general managers’ meetings. “If we made a move for someone who is a third baseman, then he’s our third baseman . . . Alex is going to come in and compete, compete for at-bats, compete for a position,” Cashman said. “Simple as that.”

Read this in conjunction with the reports that the Yankees are going to try to sign Chase Headley to be their third baseman. Or, perhaps, look at other options.

This is smart for a lot of reasons. The primary reason: there is no way to know what the Yankees are going to get out of Rodriguez. He’s turning 40 next year, has had a year off and wasn’t totally healthy when he last played in 2013. If you pencil A-Rod in as your third baseman, you’re gambling and it’s not a great gamble that you’re going to get either durability or effectiveness and getting both is a long shot.

It’s also smart from a media management perspective. It’s going to be crazy in Tampa next February as it is, so if Cashman can make it slightly less crazy by nipping “WHERE WILL A-ROD PLAY?!!!” stories now, more power to him. Of course, thinking that the New York press is NOT going to write the dumb obvious stories whether they are previously debunked or not is probably a longer shot than A-Rod getting 500 plate appearances.

If you figure A-Rod can share time at DH and first base and maybe — maybe — spell Chase Headley or someone at third once in a great while, you’re probably figuring wisely. And, if even that is too much, you haven’t had your 2015 plans blow up on you if Rodriguez can’t make a go of it next spring.