Thank you, Buck Showalter.
Thank you for coming out and saying what's been on my mind — and probably a lot of others — for the past week or so. If commissioner Bud Selig ends up using his "best interests of baseball" privilege and bans Alex Rodriguez for the rest of his life, many of us are going to see it as little more than a poorly-disguised "get out of jail free card" for the New York Yankees.
As you point out to Paul White of USA Today Sports, any lengthy suspension of A-Rod gives the league's crown jewel franchise the salary relief they've been desperately seeking. A season-long ban in 2014 erases his $25 million salary from the Yankees' ledger (thanks, CBA!) and likely allows them to get under the $189 million luxury tax threshold they wouldn't be able to limbo under otherwise. A lifetime ban frees them from the heavy yoke of the $86 million they owe him until his 10-year extension runs out after the 2017 season.
So, yeah, A-Rod is going to have to pay the price by sitting for a while. But at the same time, Selig is doing an incredible service for the Yankees, a favor that likely won't go unnoticed by those who follow any of the other 29 teams.
It especially won't slip by you, Buck:
"If Bud lets them get away with that, they're under the luxury tax," Showalter told USA TODAY Sports. "If they can reset, they can spend again and I guarantee you in two years [Baltimore catcher] Matt Wieters is in New York."
"They're the ones who signed him to that contract."
Indeed, they are the ones who were foolishly strongarmed by A-Rod and Scott Boras to that silly 10-year, $275 million extension following the 2007 season. And I don't know about you, Buck, but I already had my popcorn popped and was looking forward to seeing the Yankees lie in the expensive bed of aging stars they started making in the latter half of the past decade.
I see what some of you might be saying. Take away A-Rod and you still have the bloated contracts of Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and whatever it is they'll have to pay to keep Derek Jeter from wearing another team's jersey. But it still won't be the same. The subtraction of A-Rod's contract gives the Yankees a better shot at retaining Robinson Cano's services. It allows them to draw a wider circle when devising a plan to lower the team's median age below its current crusty demographic. It grants them a way to escape the noose of a contract that won't be afforded to other teams that have made the same mistakes.
(Think the Los Angeles Angels would like to find an escape hatch on the Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton deals yet? The Washington Nationals and Jayson Werth? The Detroit Tigers and Justin Verlander in a few years?)
There's one quibble I have with your protestation, Buck. It's with your guarantee that your All-Star backstop Matt Wieters will be packing for the Bronx once he becomes a free agent in 2016. Your front office has more than two years to work out the type of extension that many other teams have used to lock up their young franchise cornerstones. And if he does get through to free agency? Well, there are going to be more teams than just the Yankees looking to obtain Wieters' services.
But that's just a small point. Overall, I'm loudly applauding your stance here, Buck, and hope others join us in voicing our objection. Bud Selig may want his Javert-like pursuit of a punishment for A-Rod to appear as one of the crowning moments in his legacy. But the rest of us see it for what it really is: A pardon for the league's favorite team.