With the news that Alex Rodriguez is going to have the first part of the surgery necessary to fix his hip, we know he is expected to be out 6-9 weeks. Conservatively, that places his return in the middle of May. A more aggressive timetable would have him back in pinstripes at the end of April.
Where one drafts ARod in a the most common draft format - snake draft mixed league - is not as season-changing as one would think. There are plenty of full-time 3B available in this format, and the ability to dip into the free agent pool in search of a band-aid makes ARod's absence easy to wait out.
This is not the case in the less popular, but much more challenging, AL-only auction format. Here the ability to easily stick a full-time player in ARod's roster spot is much harder. In a 12-team league, there are simply not enough starting 3B to guarantee one can spend the money necessary to have a two-month rental who plays full-time. The free agent pool will likely contain nothing but the pre-ARod-injury Cody Ransoms.
The most challenging scenario is the one I find myself in - a 12-team AL-only keeper league. How much do you bid for a player who has the added value of the option of being kept in 2010 and beyond?
In a non-keeper league, the question is fairly simple. Assuming ARod misses the first third of the season, bid 2/3s of his expected value i.e. $24 if projections say he is worth $36. This is fair enough as ARod went for $22 in the AL LABR draft.
In a keeper league that is just the start. His future value beyond 2009 has value. If a team wins ARod for $24, he will automatically become one the better values in 2010 assuming one does not expect him to be much less than a $36 player then. However, there is an even larger factor to consider in the AL-only keeper league - inflation.
For whatever reason, my league has tagged all the top players available at the draft at $45+ players. It defies the typical inflation calculation. FWIW, ARod went for $52 last season followed by Miguel Cabrera at $49. Previously, ARod had been protected at $48 for two seasons.
Using even an expected 2010 draft price of $45 makes the drafting strategy a tougher one than anything that has been put forth since Alex Rodriguez' injury was announced. Where does any of the twelve teams make the decision to drop out of the bidding? At $24, even I would have a hard time letting him pass and I have just $56 to acquire nine players.