Nashville, TN – If there was ever any doubt that Alex Rodriguez is still a big deal, well the first day of the Winter Meetings in the vast Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tennessee surely reaffirmed those beliefs.
The New York Yankees normally dominate the conversation at these meetings and that was certainly the case on Monday, but not in the way they are accustomed to.
Instead of shelling out a boatload of money for the free agent du jour, the Yankees announced that Rodriguez will need an arthroscopic procedure to repair a torn labrum and bone impingement in his left hip, while also correcting a cyst. It is similar, but not identical, to the right hip surgery he underwent in March 2009.
And of course, in typical A-Rod fashion, the events surrounding this injury are a bit bizarre. According to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, Rodriguez first brought the hip to manager Joe Girardi's attention after Raul Ibanez pinch-hit for him in the ALDS. However, he thought the problem was with his right hip, but an MRI came back clean and the Yankees continued business as usual.
In actuality, though, it was his left hip that was the problem. And probably the reason he hit a mere .120 this postseason.
How the doctors were unable to detect that is beyond me, but then again what do I know? Even more amazing was the fact that Rodriguez was able to go to the hospital during the playoffs without anyone knowing.
As bad as the $114 million remaining on his contract seemed back in October, it's far worse today for a 37-year-old player who was already declining and will now have had two hip surgeries when he takes the field in 2013.
It also just reaffirms just how old this Yankees club is. Let's not forget shortstop Derek Jeter might not be ready for the start of the season either after the broken foot he sustained in the playoffs.
Cashman also signed Hiroki Kuroda, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte - three players whose average age will be 40 on Opening Day - to deals totaling $37 million for the coming season.
The logical in-house option to replace Rodriguez is Eduardo Nunez, who was already being counted on to fill in for Jeter. Nunez was one of the few bright spots offensively for the Yankees this past postseason, but he plays the field as if his hands are on fire.
Cashman, though, stated at a press conference on Monday that he doesn't envision Nunez in a third base role at the moment.
Veteran Eric Chavez has been marvelous as a fill-in for Rodriguez the past few years, but he has injury concerns of his own, especially if he has to play every day. Plus Chavez was so good as a bench player last year he may have priced himself out of the Yankees plans for the upcoming season.
There was already talk that the Yankees were going hard after shortstop Stephen Drew and that will continue. But now they'll also likely engage discussions with Brandon Inge and possibly Kevin Youkilis.
New York could also look to make a deal. San Diego toyed with the idea of moving third baseman Chase Headley at last year's deadline, but he was as good as any player in the league in the final two months of the season. The Yankees aren't rich with prospects at the moment, though, and chances are Headley's not going anywhere.
Cleveland shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera could also be had, but that would open a whole other can of worms with Jeter that Cashman is not yet ready to deal with.
Just another day at the office for the Yankees.