Major changes appear to be in store for the New York Yankees.
Considered the titan of Major League Baseball, the Yankees' season ended on Thursday with an 8-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers in the American League Championship series. Not only did New York fail to advance to the World Series, they were swept -- marking the first time since 1980 that they failed to win a game in a postseason series.
The Yankees' high-priced batting order failed to live up to expectations in the playoffs. New York hit .188 in the postseason, which represents the lowest batting average for any team in history through at least seven postseason games.
While nearly the entire team struggled at the plate, Alex Rodriguez has taken the brunt of the criticism. With just three hits in 25 at-bats in the playoffs, the 14-time All-Star was benched in three games and pitch-hit for on multiple occasions.
With manager Joe Girardi's decision to sit Rodriguez in the most important games of the season, rumors have started that the Yankees are looking to trade the future Hall of Famer. Rodriguez has reiterated that he wants to return to New York, but the team seems to believe that he may have over-stayed his welcome in the Bronx.
It won't be easy to trade Rodriguez. He’s owed $114 million over the next five years, and has a no-trade clause in his contract. Still, the Yankees could pay the majority of his salary, or take on another bad contract, in order to send him packing.
Here are the most likely trade destinations for A-Rod:
Rumors began circulating about Rodriguez being traded to Miami before New York was knocked out of the ALCS. Political commentator Keith Olbermann reported that the Yankees and Marlins had already discussed a deal that involved reliever Heath Bell.
Though Yankees general manager Brian Cashman denied the report, a trade with Miami could make sense for both clubs.
Rodriguez is from South Florida, and the Marlins might be one of the few teams where he would accept a trade. The Marlins perpetually have had trouble drawing fans, and they might be interested in obtaining another star to boost attendance.
Jose Reyes or Mark Buehrle could also be involved in a deal. The Marlins gave both players lucrative contracts in the offseason, expecting to compete for a title. Miami ended up in last place in the NL East and could be ready to sell off some of their most expensive assets.
Los Angeles Angels
Just as the Yankees had a disappointing finish to their season, the Angels fell short of expectations. After adding two high-priced free agents in the offseason, Los Angeles failed to reach the playoffs. The Angels could be looking to make a move to ensure the same thing doesn’t happen again in 2013.
Vernon Wells would likely be part of a potential deal. The outfielder has two years remaining on his contract, and will make almost as much money as Rodriguez in 2013 and 2014.
If the Yankees acquire Wells and his two-year, $42 million deal, they may not have to pay much of Rodriguez’s remaining deal. While Rodriguez's struggles are recent, Wells has been unproductive for quite some time. In the last two seasons, Wells has batted .222.
The Cubs have two of the biggest requirements for a team that might be willing to trade for Rodriguez: a big hole at third base, and a player with one of the worst contracts in baseball.
In 2012, Cubs third basemen were the worst in the league -- combining for a .201 batting average, 50 runs scored and 184 total bases. Rookie Josh Vitters had trouble with major league pitching, and Ian Stewart struggled when healthy.
The Yankees could re-acquire Alfonso Soriano, after dealing him to Texas for Rodriguez in 2004. Soriano is set to earn $18 million over the next two seasons. While he had a bounce back year in 2012 with 32 home runs, Soriano remains highly overpaid. The outfielder hasn’t had an on-base percentage of over .322 since 2008.