Despite the team's unspoken desires and Cash's public statements to the contrary, there was a time not very long ago when Alex Rodriguez would have been the starting third baseman for the Yankees next year. That most likely wouldn't have meant good things for A-Rod's health or the team's chances of winning, another example of how flawed their decision making and roster building strategy had become.
Thankfully Cash and the rest of the front office recognized the importance in not allowing that to happen as part of their offseason infield makeover. Chase Headley was brought back to be the starting third baseman, a handful of Quad-A utility guys have been invited to ST, rookies like Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder are going to get a crack at an Opening Day roster spot, and Stephen Drew was signed on Tuesday as the last bit of depth insurance.
Those moves have all but guaranteed that A-Rod never sees time at the hot corner in 2015, maybe never again for as long as he decides to keep playing. At best right now he's the third string third baseman behind Headley and Drew and he probably still would have been third behind Brendan Ryan if the Yanks didn't sign Drew. If Pirela makes the team, he could slide in front of A-Rod and bump him down to fourth string.
There was talk of A-Rod getting some work at first base to see if he could be a viable option to back up Mark Teixeira, but the addition of Garrett Jones to the bench makes that experiment unnecessary now. Headley, who got a little time in at first last year, probably slides into the emergency third string spot ahead of A-Rod, so little chance of him ever getting any burn there. He's basically locked into the designated hitter spot now and Jones is probably going to take some of his ABs away there too. Both of them are strict bat-first players at this point and both have significant platoon splits against same-sided pitching. On a team that needs to score a lot more runs, I could see Joe playing the DH platoon game with Jones against righties and Alex against lefties. That's what I'd do to try to get the most value out of A-Rod's bat and limit the wear and tear on his old hips and legs.
Of course I'm a staunch A-Rod supporter and the Yankee front office personnel are not, so there may be more than looking out for Alex's best interests in play when it comes to these moves. It's no secret that the Yankees would love for A-Rod to go away. It would make some sense for them to try to limit his playing time as much as possible in the hopes that he'll elect retirement in place of 2 more years of mostly riding the bench. But Rodriguez has 61 million reasons to stick around, and regardless of the Yankees' motivations in making these moves, they're still smart moves from a baseball and business standpoint. Relationships aside, it makes sense to keep a broken down, oft injured, going-on-40-year-old player limited to DH duty. If nothing else, it makes him that much easier to replace when he gets hurt.