It is perfectly clear that A-Rod is the Yankees’ DH. At best. So there will be no drama, right?

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Brian Cashman spoke to the media today regarding the Chase Headley deal and made a point to say that Alex Rodriguez was the team’s designated hitter at best.

Cashman said almost as much 11 days ago. Likewise, the team’s consistently reported interest in Chase Headley before he was signed made it quite clear that the Yankees have no illusions that A-Rod can be counted on to play third base. Indeed, if he can’t really hit, he probably won’t even DH as Carlos Beltran can do that and the Yankees could use Chris Young or someone like him in right field.

The Yankees are fully prepared for A-Rod to be a non-factor for them. If he can’t play anymore the roster is set up to cut him without much of a baseball impact. If, however, they are pleasantly surprised by his hitting, they will enjoy his services at DH.

This is all a conservative, sensible and non-controversial approach for the Yankees to take. And that they have it all sorted by December 16th means that — barring some crazy comments from A-Rod about how he expects to start in the infield or something — there will be no drama from the team’s perspective. Indeed, this is the dictionary definition of a drama-free approach to this kind of situation.

But if you think the media is going to let that be the case, you’re crazy:

The strangest spring training saga will begin when the Yankees’ full squad emerges from the clubhouse for their first pre-workout stretch . . . the platoon of cameras will be focused on a guy with an undefined role: Alex Rodriguez . . . Reporters will trace his every movement and log Rodriguez’s interaction with teammates, looking for signs that the others around him might shy away from him . . . The search for signs of awkwardness will continue the first time the Yankees’ infielders move to their positions . . . Will A-Rod step in the front of the line, in front of Headley, among those awaiting grounders at third base? Or will Rodriguez defer to Headley? Will manager Joe Girardi feel the need to say something to Rodriguez about who should be first, to make everything crystal clear? Or will Rodriguez and Headley be assigned to separate fields, to protect Rodriguez’s feelings?

That’s all from Buster Olney today and it goes on and on like that. And I’m not singling Buster out here. That echoes the sorts of things a lot of scribes have tweeted in the past couple of days in the wake of the Headley signing and what will, no doubt, be the jumping off point of a dozen or two reporters covering Yankees spring training, claiming it’s a complete circus and “The A-Rod Show” and all kinds of stuff.

But as it stands now, given how the Yankees have handled this, it will only be a circus if the media creates it. And by God, you know they’re going to try to. When they do, don’t blame A-Rod. Don’t blame the Yankees. Blame the people who are absolutely desperate for this to actually be a circus and who will dissect every flinch, cough and blink in order to shoehorn what, as of now, appears to be a pretty straightforward situation into their preferred narrative of A-Rod-fueled, Bronx Zoo chaos.

 

 

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.