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Imagining a GM who would give A-Rod or Tim Tebow a call in 2017

I'm sorry.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Let's say you're a GM trying to piece together a roster for 2017 with the owners breathing down your neck.

"Field us a contender," they growl, "but also put asses in the seats. And also get us some recognizable names. Do all of these things or you're fired."

You've got a mortgage, some kids enrolled in charter school, and your cat's insulin shots aren't getting any cheaper. The point is, you need this job. So you close the desk drawer with the half empty whiskey bottle and get to work.

Today, the A-Rod story concludes, while a few days ago, the Tim Tebow But in Baseball this Time story began. Both narratives have been met with gushing enthusiasm or knee-jerk eye-rolling, depending on who you tweet at, and as of right now, there's no definite end to either of them. A-Rod is retiring, yes, but like a villain's eyes popping open at the end of a movie, will he actually be gone? Or can we look forward to years of unwatchable sequels?

Last season, the man posted a 129 wRC+, which is phenomenal. Because of that, I'm not totally convinced that Rodriguez's career as a productive bat is over.

--Jeff Sullivan, Fangraphs

Rodriguez mentioned retirement all the way back in March, so this is a decision he's rolled around in his head a bit. But everybody has trouble walking away, and nobody has done whatever they wanted without regarding what the audience wanted more than A-Rod. Should he desire, or be convinced, to return, where would he go? What would he be able to do?

Let's look at the stats. [Looks at stats]. Dear god, no one else look at these. We don't need them to tell us A-Rod was the most expensive part-time DH in the history of the sport. Leading up to this point, most people were wondering what his job title even was anymore. What does an entirely hypothetical 2017 version of Alex Rodriguez bring your club?

  • Good eye
  • Slow bat
  • Veteran presents (By this I of course mean the gifts older players routinely give to younger ones, like old books or cans of prunes)
  • Legion of media
  • A DH making the league minimum
  • A suddenly aggressive batter in his forties, clinging to the Mendoza Line
  • One of the sport's most prolific, polarizing rule-breakers

The man would be 42 at this point, subtracting $507,500 from your payroll. By the [presumed] end of his career, A-Rod was hitting about .200 with an OPS tickling .600. His patience at the plate had evaporated. He was swinging mostly at fastballs, or pitches he believed were going to be fastballs, and backing away from breaking pitches. He was striking out in a hair over 30% of his AB. He had two extra base hits in July.

It is difficult to imagine, even in this joke universe in which you are a drunken baseball executive at the end of his rope, that there is not a more feasible, appealing option out there in your farm system or deep, deep on the free agent market to fill a role that you'd potentially pay Alex Rodriguez to fill. Unless, of course, you were being motivated so much by the "sideshow" aspect of bringing in a tabloid darling that A-Rod actually was at the top of your list. Given enough time, everybody can find a pocket of productivity--anybody see Ryan Howard's numbers lately?--but you're not paying half a million for a hitter. You're paying half a million for A-Rod, and the only motivation for doing that is a desperate need for attention.

Players are always plowing through stop signs on their way to retirement, but this feels like a natural end to A-Rod's career as a player (unlike the jarring, abrupt end to Prince Fielder has had to face). A big league club trying to revive it is an idea that is fun to discuss on the internet, but come spring, how could he possibly be anywhere but Tampa wearing a windbreaker?

Besides, there are other options.

You lurch forward, unable to believe that you're considering this. Tebow is 28, an age generally considered too late to start trying to play professional baseball for the first time; but also an age considered to be within a hitter's prime. But is he a hitter?

You can see from the video above that Tebow clearly knows which end of the bat to hold. And that concludes the majority of what we know about his baseball playing background. So, where do you put a quarterback who should have been a fullback on a baseball diamond?

At 6' 3" and 236 lbs., Tebow is a few inches taller and almost fifty pounds heavier than the average MLB player. Maybe he's the next entry onto the thin catchers market - though that would require him to throw to second with a measure of accuracy, something on which a guy with a 47.9% completion percentage probably can't rely. At first base, he won't have to throw the ball as much, but that squanders his ability to move, which had become one of his only reliable assets in football.

All right, whatever--he's a DH, then. Let's talk intangibles. The man knows how to get people excited. His agent cites his "athletic ability, his work ethic, his leadership and his competitiveness" as his most dominating traits that will translate well to baseball. Even his detractors, at their most charitable, will refer to him as "harmless." That's at least better than having a lit firecracker in your locker room. Does he turn people off wherever he goes with his earnest, wholesome brand and the "rat king" of media members tumbling behind him? Yes. But people will love watching him succeed or fail.

Hell, sign 'um both and start the next A-Rod/Jeter rivalry, only without the talent. They've basically been teammates already. If you're going to make a move, though, make it now; Tebow's already getting coaching offers.

You lean back in your chair and wonder: Is this even about baseball anymore? And the answer is of course not. Because you can't be the GM of a big league team and be seriously considering this. Maybe A-Rod gets a spring training invite that he in all likelihood turns down. But the truth is, the chair you're sitting in is most likely in the offices of an independent minor league team looking for a spike at the gate.

For teams like yours, perhaps you are on the verge of a golden age in which celebrities looking for some exercise decide to skip the rec league circuit and choose to sign a deal with you. Does it rob an actual major league hopeful of a roster spot? Ha, ha, ha. You bet your ass it does. But just think of that line snaking around the corner and you'll feel better.

Either that or just hope enough weird crap happens to keep people entertained.