Alex Rodriguez Rumors
11:14am: Major League Baseball has issued a statement in which it "vehemently denies" Rodriguez's allegations. MLB also calls Rodriguez's lawsuit is a "desperate attempt to circumvent the circumvent the Collective Bargaining Agreement" and distract from the real issue, which is whether or not he used Testosterone and HGH over multiple years and violated the Basic Agreement by attempting to interfere with the Biogenesis investigation.
10:01am: Alex Rodriguez has filed a lawsuit against Major League Baseball, accusing MLB of buying the cooperation of Biogenesis founder Tony Bosch to further a "witch hunt" to push him out of the game permanently, according to Steve Eder, Serge Kovaleski, and Benjamin Weiser of the New York Times.
The lawsuit claims that an investigator paid $150K for stolen records pertaining to Rodriguez (part of which was reportedly exchanged in a paper bag at a Fort Lauderdale restaurant). The lawsuit also claims that MLB has paid Bosch as much as $5MM for his cooperation in addition to promising to provide him security, cover his legal bills and indemnify him from civil liability. Rodriguez is quoted as stating that this lawsuit is separate from the ongoing arbitration hearing regarding his 211-game suspension:
"The entire legal dynamic is very complex, and my legal team is doing what they need to in order to vindicate me and pursue all of my rights. This matter is entirely separate from the ongoing arbitration. I look forward to the arbitration proceedings continuing, and for the day to come when I can share my story with the public and my supporters."
MLB and the Yankees have both denied claims of conspiracy to force Rodriguez out of the game, the NY Times team notes. Commissioner Bud Selig is listed as a defendant on the claim, but the Yankees and Yankees team officials are not.
Yesterday, Yankees GM Brian Cashman spent almost an hour talking to the New York media about the offseason ahead. Cashman said that the club has made or will make a significant offer to Robinson Cano, but one has to imagine that the second baseman won't view the club's opening proposal in that light. Cano and baseball's newest power agent are reportedly seeking a deal in excess of $300MM while the Yankees are just months removed from pitching a contract similar to David Wright's eight-year, $138MM pact. Here's more out of the Bronx..
- After watching Russell Martin go yard twice in last night's win over the Reds, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com wonders how the Yankees ever let him get away. The Pirates wound up signing him for $17MM over two years while the Bombers batted around "concepts" of a $12-$14MM deal without officially making an offer.
- Cashman has a full plate of problems to deal with this winter, writes David Lennon of Newsday. The GM credited ownership in yesterday's presser for spending the cash to go out and get Vernon Wells and Alfonso Soriano to help cover up for the club's injuries, but those were nothing more than short-term fixes. Lennon also isn't optimistic about their chances of keeping Robinson Cano given the gap in negotiations.
- As the Yankees' old core moves out of the picture, the Bombers don't have a new core to take their place, Steve Politi of the Star-Ledger writes. There doesn't appear to be a lot of upper-level help as the Yankees didn't see strong seasons from catcher Gary Sanchez and outfielders Slade Heathcott, Tyler Austin, and Mason Williams. It's a problem that'll hurt them as they try to stay under the $189MM threshold.
- Alex Rodriguez's representatives presented a case to arbitrators that argues, in part, that he was tricked into taking steroids, sources tell Teri Thompson, Michael O'Keeffe, Michael Red, and Nathaniel Vinton of the New York Daily News.
Mariano Rivera could receive one more retirement present in the form of a long-awaited appearance in center field. Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters (including MLB.com's Bryan Hoch) that he could give the closer an inning of work in center during the season-ending series this weekend in Houston, which also mark the final three games of Rivera's legendary career. Rivera has said he will take the defensive assignment only if he feels physically up to the task. "If I cannot do it, I will not be making a fool of myself there," Rivera said. "I'm a professional. This is not a joke. This is serious, this is business."
Here are some more items out of the Bronx...
- Curtis Granderson's preference would be to remain with the Yankees but he's looking forward to his first taste of free agency, the outfielder tells The Star-Ledger's Brendan Prunty. MLBTR's Steve Adams recently profiled what Granderson could claim on the open market this winter.
- Going into what could be his last home game in Yankee Stadium, Robinson Cano told reporters (including Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York) that he planned to take a long break after the season and then think about his future. As Matthews notes, this likely means the Yankees won't be able to extend Cano during their exclusivity period following the World Series. Cano also didn't say if he would require the Yankees to commit to making other free agent signings this winter before re-signing with them.
- Earlier today, it was reported that Cano was seeking a ten-year contract worth at least $305MM. He has already rejected two extension offers from the Yankees worth $138MM over eight years and between $161MM-$168MM over seven years.
- Alex Rodriguez "absolutely" expects to finish his career as a Yankee in 2017 after playing out the rest of his contract, he told Newsday's Steven Marcus. "I'm looking forward to that....I've shown myself that there's a lot left in the tank -- and I have a lot to prove," Rodriguez said.
- It might not be for 211 games, but Mike Axisa of the River Ave Blues blog figures Rodriguez will face some kind of PED suspension, and Axisa looks at how the Yankees would be affected if Rodriguez had to miss 50, 100 or 150+ games.
For the Red Sox, 2013 has increasingly taken on the feel of a triumphant return to glory. Now enjoying a seemingly insurmountable division lead, the Sox have engineered one of the greatest season-to-season turnarounds ever. Jonah Keri of Grantland looks back on each of the key free agent signings made by GM Ben Cherington, arguing that the team's "passel of midlevel free agents" were hardly the overpays that they were labeled. Here's more from around baseball..
- The Phillies are still interested in Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says that he's tried to trade for him "at least ten times," writes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Unfortunately for the Phils, Marlins president Larry Beinfest has rebuffed them each time and made it clear that they're not moving him.
- A Mets source told Mike Puma of the New York Post (via Twitter) that manager Terry Collins isn't being evaluated by wins and losses in September. "There's different criteria at different times of the year," the offical said.
- Alex Rodriguez's attorneys fear that the MLBPA won't fight hard for their client as he fights a 211-game ban, writes Michael O'Keeffe of the New York Daily News. Sources say that the relationship between team A-Rod and the union is rather uneasy at this point.
- Twins pitcher Mike Pelfrey needs 10.2 innings to reach a $100K bonus and manager Ron Gardenhire won't get in his way as he says that he never lets bonuses affect his decisions, tweets Phil Miller of the Star Tribune.
- Regardless of his light-hitting, Brendan Ryan left his mark on Mariners baseball, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. The shortstop was traded to the Yankees earlier this week for a player to be named later.
- Three years after signing Jayson Werth to a seven-year, $126MM deal, Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner says that he's still pleased about the deal, writes Bill Ladson of MLB.com.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
As we ease into the evening's slate of ballgames, here are a few quick notes on the two ballclubs that call New York home:
- If the Mets retain manager Terry Collins next season, as is widely expected, the team could stand to lose Triple-A manager Wally Backman, writes the New York Post's Mike Puma. Backman, who was a finalist for Collins's job, could look elsewhere to advance his career if he isn't given a seat in the New York dugout.
- The notion of the Yankees giving struggling starter Phil Hughes a qualifying offer at year end has gone from plausible to laughable, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. While GM Brian Cashman was reportedly telling other clubs at the trade deadline that a QO was a serious consideration, a competing GM now tells Heyman: "They may make a qualifying offer. And I may run for president."
- A schedule has been set for hearing Alex Rodriguez's appeal of his 211-game suspension, reports Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com. If the Yankees fail to qualify for the postseason, the proceedings will begin on September 30th, the day after the regular season ends. If the Yanks sneak back in, a delay would be likely since Rodriguez is entitled to be personally present. At least 45 more days are expected to be needed for a decision. Of course, the longer it takes to resolve the situation, the longer the New York front office will remain in the dark on how much money it will save on the rest of A-Rod's deal.
The MLBPA has fought hard to secure and maintain guaranteed contracts across the board for its players. At the same time, teams are looking to reduce their risk in deals and some have taken to adding guarantee language to contracts, which could theoretically void the contract if a player is in violation of conditions in the clause. It's an issue that has yet to blow up, but it was of enough concern to the MLBPA that they discussed it at length in a New York City summit last year, sources tell Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.
At the time, the Cubs, Yankees, and Nationals were among the teams that were putting additional language into their contracts to help protect them against certain off-the-field occurrences. That doesn't sit well with the union as they would argue that punishment for harmful behaviors is already covered under the collective bargaining agreement. Ultimately, the union was worried that teams could look to 86 contracts over things like PED use and misrepresentation of age. While this hasn't really been an issue yet, sources assure Passan that the Yankees have discussed turning to guarantee language to go after Alex Rodriguez.
In total, Passan counts four instances of teams attempting to use guarantee language to convert a deal from guaranteed to non-guaranteed in an effort to ostensibly void a deal. Three of those cases were settled for close to 90 cents on the dollar owed, sources said, before an arbitrator could rule on any grievance. The other case was when the Padres tried to void LaMarr Hoyt's deal entirely when he was caught smuggling drugs across the Mexican border, but they were unsuccessful.
Passan's article includes a look at the list of prohibited activities under the Cubs' standard guarantee language. The list is comically lengthy and covers everything ranging from hot air ballooning to bobsledding to participation in a show like the Battle Of The Network Stars, just in case that gets a reboot. However, agents have asked the Cubs to back off of that language and they have agreed. The bigger concern for the union is that the Cubs contract calls for a conversion in the event of things such as attempted suicide, contraction of HIV, criminal acts, and PED use. The MLBPA believed teams were broadening the conversion clause to potentially punish PED users beyond the discipline called for in the joint drug agreement.
While there is obviously some disagreement between the two sides on this issue, both tend to agree that truly standard guarantee language would go a long way toward fixing the issue. That was an idea that was brought up during the last CBA talks, but was too far down the priority list and wasn't addressed. That's something that could change ahead of 2016 when the league will have a new JDA. At that point, PED penalties will likely increase and the incentive to go after users will be even greater.
Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez currently faces a 211-game suspension stemming from his role in the Biogenesis scandal, but his suspension might have been far shorter, perhaps as few as 50 games, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal writes. "At different points, it could have been way, way less than where it is now," a source tells Rosenthal. Rodriguez has appealed his suspension. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- The Mets have decided Travis d'Arnaud's promotion won't be temporary, Rosenthal tweets. The Mets promoted d'Arnaud after starting catcher John Buck went on paternity leave. Now, Rosenthal writes, the Mets plan to keep d'Arnaud on their roster and give him "significant playing time." That would suggest that Buck is likely to play much less. D'Arnaud, 24, has hit .286/.420/.514 across three minor-league levels in 2013 after having missed much of the season with a foot injury.
- The Rangers are looking for a pitcher to start on Tuesday, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News writes. Texas has a need in its rotation after Alexi Ogando received an anti-inflammatory injection on Saturday. The Rangers will have Matt Garza pitch on Monday, a day earlier than expected. Josh Lindblom, who has made five starts for the Rangers this year, started Sunday night for Triple-A Round Rock, so he isn't a candidate to pitch Tuesday. The Rangers could promote the recently-acquired Travis Blackley, but Fraley raises the possibility that they could deal for a starter like Dan Haren or Erik Bedard, both of whom have passed through waivers.
- The Indians are not interested in former Phillies outfielder Delmon Young, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer tweets. Hoynes also notes that the Indians have put in waiver claims on "several players," although they have not been able to trade for any.
- The Twins aren't likely to trade Justin Morneau to the Red Sox, writes Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Morneau cleared waivers on Wednesday, and Sox first baseman Mike Napoli is currently nursing a sore foot. It's not yet clear that Napoli's injury is severe, however, and it's questionable whether Morneau would be an upgrade over options like Daniel Nava and Mike Carp.
Wilson Betemit is on his way back from a knee injury suffered in the spring, but that won't prevent the Orioles from hunting for a designated hitter, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. "We want to find another hitter. We have been looking at this issue for a while, and we want to find a solution for DH," Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette says. "[Betemit] can certainly be a solution. He is a good hitter, but he needs some at-bats." Connolly reports that the Orioles do not seem interested in Justin Morneau and have not seriously considered Paul Konerko, both of whom have passed through waivers. Here's more from the AL East.
- Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees are in the midst of a feud centered on accusations against the Yankees made by Rodriguez attorney Joseph Tacopina. Despite that and Rodriguez's 211-game suspension, the Yankees are not considering releasing Rodriguez, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger writes. "That’s not something for me. I wouldn’t think that that’s – I don’t think that’s something that would be considered, personally," GM Brian Cashman says.
- The Blue Jays have done a nice job finding depth players this season, but have struggled overall because bigger-name players aren't producing, SportsNet.ca's Shi Davidi writes. On Sunday, the Jays got a solid start from former waiver claim Todd Redmond, but couldn't put together enough offense to beat the Rays. The Jays have gotten underwhelming results from big-name acquisitions like Josh Johnson, R.A. Dickey, Melky Cabrera and others en route to a 57-67 season so far.
Alex Rodriguez's newly retained attorney, Joseph Tacopina, has issued fighting words regarding the club's medical treatment of its embattled third baseman. As the New York Times' Steve Eder reports, Tacopina claims that the club put Rodriguez in the lineup late last year despite knowing of tear in the labrum of his hip -- failing to advise Rodriguez of that fact and hoping to shorten his playing career. The allegations are presumably intended to form the basis for a defense against Rodriguez's historic PED suspension, which Rodriguez has appealed.
According to Eder, the Rodriguez rep further alleged that the Yankees were "working in conjunction" with Major League Baseball to put him out of the game and avoid paying the remainder of his massive contract. (MLB executive vice president Robert Manfred called this charge a "red herring," explaining that the suspension had no impact on Rodriguez's contract beyond lost pay for the suspension itself.) Claiming that confidentiality concerns prevented him from denying PED use by Rodriguez, Tacopina did insist that no suspension was warranted.
Yankees president Randy Levine responded with equal force, saying that "each and every one of these allegations is specious and completely false." Levine warned that, "if they continue, all parties will be held accountable." He said that the club was willing to disprove the alleged mistreatment by releasing Rodriguez's health records, if the three-time MVP would consent.
As CBS Sports' Jon Heyman further reports, Levine also invoked other aspects of Rodriguez's medical history, such as his alleged treatment in early 2009 by disgraced physician Anthony Galea. "The only medical issue we can't confirm is [Rodriguez's] treatment by Dr. Anthony Galea," said Levine. "We didn't authorize it. Since [Rodriguez] has put his condition into play, he should release his records with Galea."
Two other factual disputes have also arisen. First, Tacopina says that Levine told Rodriguez surgeon Bryan Kelly that "I don't ever want to see him on the field again." Levine denied that claim, offering to release transcripts of communications with the surgeon, while Kelly has declined comment. Second, the parties offered competing characterizations of emails exchanged between Rodriguez and Levine, with Tacopina calling them "very damaging" and Levine saying the correspondence would demonstrate only his support for Rodriguez.
With Rodriguez's grievance proceeding still in the preliminary stages, the issues at play could be destined to multiply and become more complicated. As I explored a few weeks ago, in the context of examining possible legal action by a team against PED users, unauthorized medical treatment involving PEDs could conceivably form an independent basis for a team to pursue relief against a player. Should Rodriguez seek to deploy medical mistreatment as a defense or even an affirmative claim of his own, he would potentially open himself to charges that his PED use -- or other undisclosed, unauthorized treatment -- constituted a violation of his contract's medical provisions.
According to a "60 Minutes" report, members of Alex Rodriguez's inner circle obtained unredacted Biogenesis documents in February and leaked the names of Ryan Braun, Francisco Cervelli and Danny Valencia (who was later cleared) to Yahoo Sports. Michael Radutzky of CBS News writes. Rodriguez talked to the media (including Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York) today and denied leaking the names of any fellow player, particularly his Yankee teammate Cervelli. The third baseman also warned that more details in the case would be made public in the coming days:
"You know, I've been a member of this union for 20 years, and it is important for all the guys to understand that my loyalty is to this union and it would never happen, it would never occur and it didn't happen. Let's make one thing clear: For the next seven weeks, it is going to be a very bumpy road. Every day expect a story like this, if not bigger."
Here are some more items from around the AL East...
- Given the uncertainty of Rodriguez's situation and Derek Jeter's health, the Yankees will need to explore alternatives at third base and shortstop this winter, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Under Sherman's scenario, Jeter would play half his games at shortstop and the rest at first base or as the Yankees' primary DH against right-handers.
- As least 12 teams project to be suitors for Jacoby Ellsbury this winter, Fangraphs' Paul Swydan writes. The Red Sox are one of those teams, as "GM Ben Cherington isn’t letting Ellsbury go without a fight," though Swydan notes that the Sox could be in a position crunch in left field (with Jackie Bradley, Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes) if they re-sign both Ellsbury and Mike Napoli.
- The Rays still look like the winners of the Wil Myers/James Shields trade, despite the Royals' recent hot streak, Grantland's Rany Jazayerli opines.
- The hiring of Buck Showalter was the key move that turned the Orioles from also-rans into contenders, outfielder Adam Jones writes in a guest piece for Buster Olney's column (ESPN Insider subscription required).