The Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rogers breaks down the factors involved that might result in Alex Rodriguez playing in Chicago in 2008. Let’s break it down in a nifty bullet-point format.
- Rodriguez played under Lou Piniella in Chicago, and the two are said to have a strong relationship. That’s where a lot of this speculation begins. But won’t it just come down to money in the end?
- Third base is fully blocked by Aramis Ramirez, where shortstop is fairly open. The Cubs won’t exercise Cesar Izturis’s option, but will have Ryan Theriot around. No matter how much A-Rod’s shortstop defense is lacking, I can’t picture it beyond worse than Theriot’s. Piniella might prefer to use Theriot in a superutility role with a focus on second base.
- The Cubs don’t seem to despise Scott Boras, dealing smoothly with him for recent signees Greg Maddux and Jeff Samardzija.
- While the Cubs showed a willingness to sign a player to a ridiculous contract with the Alfonso Soriano deal, the team will be sold after the season. That seems quite likely to interfere with an A-Rod megadeal, even if Jim Hendry says it’s business as usual.
The White Sox
- It’s well-known that the team’s brass likes A-Rod. They flirted with him in 2000 when he first reached free agency.
- The Sox could make room at short or third for Rodriguez, as Joe Crede has been mentioned in trade rumors for some time and Josh Fields is no sure thing. The team seems likely to decline its club option on Juan Uribe.
- Recent White Sox clubs have not gone crazy bidding on free agents. However, the Sox have shown the ability to pony up major cash. In particular I’m thinking of the five year, $55MM deal given to Albert Belle before the 1997 season. That one made Belle the highest paid player in baseball. Like A-Rod, Belle had a clause to opt out if he wasn’t the highest paid player in baseball.
- Unlike the Cubs, the White Sox have had beef with Scott Boras in the past. However, Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said that despite their differences, he would sign a reasonably priced Boras client. Not sure A-Rod would qualify, but if you’re going to spend big bucks you might as well do it on a superstar.
- If the Sox are able to replace Mark Buehrle internally, they’ll have some free cash to account for the difference between Jermaine Dye’s and Rodriguez’s salaries. I would view A-Rod as Dye’s replacement in the lineup.
I have to give the edge to the White Sox here, as the Cubs will likely be in a state of flux next winter. The Sox seem to be leaning toward rebuilding, though, and I don’t think a $100MM+ contract fits the plan. There should be plenty more speculation over the next several months but I don’t expect Rodriguez to land in Chicago.