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Alex Rodriguez Rumors
MLB was ready to pass expanded replay and eliminate home plate collisions at last month's Winter Meetings. However, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, the main hurdle is union approval. In an email to FOX Sports, MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark wrote the union's executive board discussed both issues "at length" during its December meeting, but "a consensus on both matters was not reached." Clark added "what has been contemplated exceeds what was agreed to" in regards to instant replay and "as it relates to home plate collisions, there are several points of view to explore with the players and we continue to do so." In today's news and notes from the American League:
- The Yankees will not make a final decision about how to handle the possibility of Alex Rodriguez reporting to Spring Training until speaking with the comissioner's office, reports ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand. One baseball official told Marchand the Yankees could send Rodriguez to their minor league camp and even go as far as instructing coaches not to hit him grounders or throw him batting practice.
- The only reason for Rodriguez to attend Spring Training is to give the media even more A-Rod headlines next month, opines Jayson Stark of ESPN. Several industry sources familiar with baseball's Basic Agreement and Joint Drug Agreement tell Stark neither agreement explicitly gives a player suspended for the season the right to attend Spring Training with one official calling the wording "intentionally vague."
- The Somerset Patriots of the independent Atlantic League have released a statement on their Facebook page saying they will not sign A-Rod and doing so "would be a hurtful precedent." However, the San Rafael Pacifics of the independent Pacific Association are open to the possibility, tweets the San Francisco Chronicle's John Shea, who first wrote about the team's interest last August. In the article, Shea notes the Pacific Association does not adhere to MLB suspensions and has no mandatory drug testing.
- Mitch Moreland told reporters, including Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com, he still isn't sure whether he will playing for the Rangers or elsewhere in 2014. "They’ve definitely made a lot of moves and have been very active this offseason," Moreland said. "From what I know right now, I’m still here and still a Texas Ranger and happy to be here and looking forward to the season." Earlier today, we learned Texas has been unwilling to discuss Moreland in trade talks. If that remains the case, Moreland says he has been told his role will be changing and he will use Spring Training to prepare himself to play first base, the outfield, and DH.
- The Twins are still showing no interest in exploring multi-year pacts with any of their three arbitration eligible players, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a total of $4.8MM for the trio of Trevor Plouffe, Brian Duensing, and Anthony Swarzak. In a separate tweet, Berardino reports an arbitration hearing will probably not be needed for Swarzak because the salary gap should be pretty narrow. The filing deadline is Tuesday.
- After sitting out 2013, Chone Figgins wants to play this season and will work out for teams in Tampa this week, tweets ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. After a .298/.395/.393 line with the Angels in 2009, Figgins signed a four-year, $36MM deal with the Mariners and proceeded to struggle in Seattle with a .227/.302/.283 slash over the life of the contract.
The fallout over Alex Rodriguez's suspension for the entire 2014 season is still settling over both the Bronx and the entire baseball world. Here's the latest on both A-Rod and other Yankee-related topics…
- The Yankees will "most likely" not sign another infielder to a Major League contract, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link). As Rosenthal notes, that would take the Yankees out of the running for Stephen Drew and Michael Young. Drew might've been a long shot anyway given Scott Boras' salary demands and the fact that Drew is a natural shortstop, though Young and Mark Reynolds were reportedly both on the Yankees' radar. Reynolds, however, has already rejected a minor league offer from the club and only wants a Major League deal.
- The 162-game suspension will reduce Rodriguez's salary to just under $2.87MM for 2014, though Forbes Magazine's Maury Brown notes that the Yankees will pay A-Rod $3MM on Wednesday in the last instalment of his original $10MM signing bonus. Brown's piece also looks at several other facets of Rodriguez's suspension, including possible implications for the MLBPA and future PED testing rules.
- Rodriguez's suspension gives the Yankees millions in salary relief, a situation that The Denver Post's Troy Renck and FOX Sports' Gabe Kapler both see as a sign that MLB needs to do more to penalize teams who have players suspended for PED violations. Renck suggests that wins could be removed from a team's record, while Kapler suggests that a team should pay a suspended player his full salary, but the player would then have to donate his salary while under suspension to an MLB-approved charity.
- "The hard reality is that no matter what you think of A-Rod, the Yankees brought this situation upon themselves, purely out of greed," ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews writes, noting that Rodriguez's contract was negotiated by Yankees upper management above GM Brian Cashman's objections. Matthews suggests that the club could just release Rodriguez and pay the remaining $61MM on his contract just to avoid the distractions if A-Rod shows up at Spring Training as planned.
- From earlier today, the Yankees agreed to sign infielder Scott Sizemore to a minor league deal.
- Wendy Thurm writes for Fangraphs that the Rodriguez affair has brought uncertainty to how baseball treats PED-related offenses. For example, it's still unclear what provisions of the Joint Drug Agreement and the Collective Bargaining Agreement Commissioner Bud Selig used to decide on his original suspension of 211 games. And unless arbitrator Frederic Horowitz's opinion is released, we won't know what JDA and CBA sections were cited when that penalty was reduced to 162 games.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports opines that MLB's victory obscures a larger problem for baseball: that PED-related stories threaten to overwhelm the sport. Stars like Rodriguez and Ryan Braun have become "corporations of one" who "keep PEDs in the news — first by using, then by perpetuating legal challenges because they have the resources to do so."
- Dave D'Alessandro of The Star-Ledger says it's time for A-Rod and the Yankees to negotiate a buyout for the rest of his contract. While Rodriguez has threatened further litigation, doing so would merely allow the Yankees to file a countersuit for the $61MM that he's owed from 2015-2017, according to D'Alessandro.
- A-Rod's career may be over, Bob Nightengale of USA Today writes. Rodriguez will be 39 1/2 years old when he's reinstated in 2015 and have just two months' worth of games on his resume since the end of the 2012 season.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says several factors in the case portend a contentious round of negotiations when the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires in 2016. Baseball managed to obtain the largest PED suspension in the game's history even though A-Rod never tested positive, and used questionable investigative tactics to build its case against the infielder. "Now more than ever, [players] need to fight for due process and protect their rights," Rosenthal warns.
Hiroki Kuroda gave the Yankees "top priority" this offseason after he decided to pitch another year, the hurler tells Sponichi (via an article by Mike Axisa of River Avenue Blues). Kuroda says the Yankees approached him about an extension as early as August. As Axisa notes, the episode is another indication that the Yankees have abandoned their "no extensions" policy. Here's more Yankees notes, with a heavy emphasis on Alex Rodriguez, who will be suspended for the entire 2014 season:
- The A-Rod suspension gives the Yanks a much better chance of getting under the $189MM luxury tax threshold, but they'll also need to find someone to play third base, Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News writes. While the Yankees have Kelly Johnson in the fold, he's played just 16 games at third in his Major League career.
- Other potential fits include Mark Reynolds and Michael Young. Reynolds, you may remember, played 36 games in pinstripes last season. There's also Dustin Ackley and Nick Franklin of the Mariners, whom another source says the Yankees expressed interest in at the Winter Meetings. A trade may not be in the cards, however, McCarron says.
- ESPN's Jerry Crasnick examines the fallout from the suspension, noting that cases such as Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro indicate A-Rod has little chance of entering the Hall of Fame. Meanwhile, Commissioner Bud Selig can now argue that he's left the game "in a better place."
- While Rodriguez plans to take his case to federal court, Ian O'Connor of ESPN New York opines that such a bid is also unlikely to succeed. "Federal judges historically have little interest in hearing cases already settled in collectively bargained arbitration," O'Connor writes.
- Daniel Lazaroff, a professor at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, says A-Rod winning an injunction that would allow him to play in 2014 "is about as likely as the 'steroid-era' players being elected to the Hall of Fame." Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times has more from Lazaroff in his column on the suspension.
- Peter Schmuck of The Baltimore Sun expects a long court battle, which might be A-Rod's "only chance to preserve any semblance of a legacy."
The Rangers are "making progress" on a deal with pitcher Jerome Williams, MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo tweets. Yesterday, a report indicated that, in the wake of the Derek Holland injury, the Rangers would look to add starting pitching depth, and Williams would certainly qualify. The righty posted a 4.57 ERA with 5.7 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 169 1/3 innings for the Angels in 2013. Here are more notes from the American League.
- One reason the Red Sox signed A.J. Pierzynski to a one-year deal is that they did not want to sign a catcher to a long-term deal and block prospects Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez in the process, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes. Pierzynski and Swihart were at the same autograph signing in Boston on Saturday, but it's not likely they'll ever play for the Red Sox together. Swihart hit .298/.366/.428 for Class A+ Salem last season, and he'll likely be at Double-A in 2014, probably with Vazquez at Triple-A. MLB.com ranks Swihart the Sox' No. 10 prospect, with Vazquez at No. 15.
- Perhaps unsurprisingly, the independent Long Island Ducks have invited Alex Rodriguez to play for them in 2014, Mark Herrmann of Newsday reports. "While some MLB suspensions have been honored by the Atlantic League in the past, if Alex Rodriguez were unable to participate in the Major Leagues this season, we would be open to exploring giving him a chance to play, stay sharp and compete," says Ducks president and GM Michael Pfaff. Rodriguez plans to continue to fight his suspension, which prevents him from playing for the Yankees in 2014.
Alex Rodriguez's fall from grace is among the "saddest baseball stories ever told," CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes. On top of A-Rod's 162-game suspension, "his name has no value" and he's now "practically friendless." Heyman also estimates that Rodriguez is spending at least $1MM a month in legal fees. Here are more notes from around the American League.
- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto says the organization's farm system is improving despite a second consecutive No. 30 ranking from Baseball America, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports. "We're better than we were [last year]," says Dipoto. "If that's deemed by Baseball America to be No. 30, we'll have to be content with living with their evaluation of our system. But we believe we're getting better; we believe we're in a better situation than that." The Angels did not have first round picks in 2012 or 2013 due to their signings of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, leading to tiny draft spending pools. But as Gonzalez has previously written, a number of other factors have also contributed to the Angels' weak farm system, including trades of prospects and the team's under-involvement in Latin America.
- Masahiro Tanaka has returned to Japan after meeting with various MLB teams in the US, Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News notes, citing Japanese media reports. The White Sox were among the teams that met with Tanaka.
- The Twins have interest in free-agent infielders Mark Reynolds and Justin Turner, but, via 1500ESPN.com's Darren Wolfson (on Twitter), a Twins official notes that other teams also have interest and that the "process has to play out."
Now that the results of Alex Rodriguez's appeal have been released, the Yankees' relationship to the 2014 luxury tax is somewhat clearer. Their balance so far is about $151.5MM, via Joel Sherman and Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. That figure does not include arbitration-eligible players and other costs, including insurance as well as in-season player promotions. Here are more notes on Rodriguez's suspension, which now covers the entire 2014 regular season and postseason.
- Even though he is not allowed to play in 2014, A-Rod still plans to attend Spring Training, tweets ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews, who cites sources close to A-Rod who believe the Yankees can't prevent him from doing so.
- Major League Baseball has not yet said what it thinks about Rodriguez attending spring training, FOX Sports' Jon Morosi tweets.
- A-Rod's suspension could end his career, Sherman writes. He won't be eligible to play again until he's 39, and he'll have been away from MLB action for the better part of two seasons. If the Yankees were to let him go, it's questionable whether any other team would pick him up, even at the minimum salary, given the "carnival" that surrounds him.
The result of Alex Rodriguez's appeal is in, and he will be suspended for 162 games, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. Rodriguez plans to appeal the suspension in federal court. The suspension will cover the full 2014 season, and also the postseason, Yahoo! Sports' Tim Brown tweets. The suspension previously was 211 games. Even though the suspension was reduced, the decision by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz appears to be a victory for Major League Baseball, which won a suspension for A-Rod that goes far beyond those of other first-time PED offenders.
The MLBPA, meanwhile, says in a statement that it disagrees with the arbitrator's decision, but respects the process that led to it. "We recognize that a final and binding decision has been reached, however, and we respect the collectively-bargained arbitration process which led to the decision," says the union.
A-Rod's suspension for the entire season means the Yankees will save about $24.3MM against the 2014 luxury tax threshold. Rodriguez's luxury-tax figure is $27.5MM, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes (via Twitter) that the Yankees will be assessed about $3.16MM of that, since 183 days, and not 162, counts as a year. In any case, the suspension could help the Yankees get below the $189MM threshold, if they choose. The Yankees will also save $25MM in salary.
That savings could give the Yankees more flexibility to pursue Masahiro Tanaka or other free agents. Also, the Yankees may now look for another option at third base, even though they have Kelly Johnson — a report earlier today indicated that they could consider Michael Young or Mark Reynolds, both of whom are free agents.
SATURDAY: A decision on A-Rod is, in fact, imminent, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman tweets.
FRIDAY: This weekend, arbitrator Fredric Horowitz could reach a decision on Alex Rodriguez's suspension, Ronald Blum of the Associated Press reports. On August 5, MLB commissioner Bud Selig suspended Rodriguez for 211 games for his alleged role in the Biogenesis scandal. Horowitz heard the case during the course of a series of sessions from September through November.
Rodriguez could continue to challenge the suspension if it is upheld, but he also reportedly might consider accepting a lesser sentence, perhaps of something like 100 games. The ultimate result of the suspension will have a significant impact on the Yankees' offseason, both in determining how much (or whether) Rodriguez plays, and how much of his salary will count against the 2014 luxury tax threshold.
With arbitrator Frederic Horowitz reportedly close to ruling on Alex Rodriguez's 211-game suspension, the embattled Rodriguez is weighing his options on how to proceed if his ban is upheld. He may be willing to forego a legal challenge to the suspension if it is substantially reduced, reports Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com.
A source tells Matthews that the magic number could be around 100 games, with a ban at or above that level making a further fight "likely." Presumably, a reduced suspension could result either from Horowitz's ruling or through negotiations with MLB. Sources told the New York Daily News yesterday that 65 games represented the level at which Rodriguez might be willing to back down.
These reports constitute a softening of the public position of Rodriguez's team, which has previously insisted that any suspension would warrant pursuit of relief in federal court. But if Rodriguez can whittle the ban down to a low enough point, the financial balance (and obvious risk of failure in a difficult legal challenge) could shift in favor of dropping his case.
A ruling on Rodriguez's grievance proceeding could come as soon as Friday, according to Matthews. Of course, the ultimate suspension length promises to have a major impact on the Yankees. New York stands to lose Rodriguez from its lineup, while also saving a big chunk of his sizeable salary, over the term of whatever ban is ultimately arrived upon.