Now, before you tell me I've gone completely mad, let me say right at the outset that this piece is intended to be mostly fantasy.
The Cubs aren't anywhere near contention; Alex Rodriguez has a no-trade clause and would have to approve a deal going anywhere, and as of yesterday all signs pointed to him staying put:
Not one team, a Yankees official told USA TODAY Sports, has called the club asking about Rodriguez. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the Yankees do not publicly discuss trade possibilities. Then again, as a person familiar with Rodriguez's thinking said, there is not one team for which Rodriguez is willing to waive his full no-trade clause. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the topic.
But after manager Joe Girardi's somewhat-public rebuke of A-Rod by pinch-hitting for him during the postseason and his flirting with female fans in the stands at Yankee Stadium during the Bronx Bombers' extra-inning loss to the Tigers in Game 1 of the ALCS, it seems as if the Yankees, who are getting older by the minute, would love to divorce themselves from A-Rod, even if it costs them most of the $114 million he's owed for the next five years.
Besides, the conventional wisdom goes, A-Rod is from Miami and still lives in Miami and if he were to agree to go anywhere, it would probably be to the Marlins (and such a deal would make some sense for them; they need a third baseman and some positive buzz after a horrific 2012).
But let's play what-if for just a minute. What if Theo and Jed decided that they could use A-Rod, who's been injured and had two mediocre years, as a stopgap third baseman? Josh Vitters is heading back to Iowa and really, Luis Valbuena is not much more than a utility player.
So what if the Cubs agreed to pay $20 million of the $114 million remaining on the deal, and send the Yankees a low-level prospect or two, players who wouldn't be missed in the rebuild?
You could play A-Rod at third base for two years while you figure out who the third baseman is going to be by 2015, when the Cubs do expect to be back in contention; that would cost $10 million a year, and at that point you simply release him. Or, if he does return to some semblance of his pre-2011 self -- remember, Derek Jeter did this year at age 38 after a couple of down seasons -- maybe you could flip him for prospects and get some other team to pick up the rest of the $20 million.
There's one other factor, and you're probably going to say this doesn't matter, but it does: A-Rod has a name, regardless of his current performance. He's a big star. He would sell some tickets, and the Cubs need to sell some tickets. No one is going to come to Wrigley Field to see Luis Valbuena play third base. Some people who otherwise might not, possibly would come to Wrigley Field to see Alex Rodriguez play third base.
Having said all this, as I wrote in the very first paragraph, this is mostly a fantasy, because A-Rod probably wouldn't waive his NTC to come to the Cubs, and Theo and Jed aren't really in the market for doing this sort of thing. If there's any non-Marlins team that would do something like this, it'd be the White Sox -- this sort of move has Kenny Williams written all over it (so if A-Rod winds up on the South Side, remember who told you). So mostly, this is just a silly what-if to contemplate while we wait for the free-agent season to begin in earnest next week.
Have at it. Something to discuss, anyway, on an otherwise-boring Thursday.