Alex Rodriguez Rumors
The Biogenesis fallout began the other day with a season-ending suspension for Ryan Braun and the news that Alex Rodriguez would likely face a lengthier punishment than Braun's 65-game ban. Yesterday it was reported that A-Rod plans to appeal his impending suspension, which would likely delay it until the 2014 season. As Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote on Monday, that scenario would benefit the Yankees in a financial sense; any money lost by Rodriguez to his suspension is money that the Yankees don't have to risk paying luxury taxes on. Here's the latest on Rodriguez...
- ESPN's T.J. Quinn reports that Major League Baseball is considering a lifetime ban for Rodriguez, but likely just to use as a weapon in negotiations. While the evidence against Rodriguez is "far beyond" the evidence MLB had on Braun, experts told Quinn it would be very difficult for MLB to convince an arbitrator to rule in favor of a lifetime ban (Twitter links).
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes that Rodriguez will likely leverage multiple lawyers to try to fight his suspension. Rodriguez hired David Cornwell, the attorney who helped Braun win his 2011 appeal, back in June to join Jay Reisinger on his legal team. Reisinger, who has a strong relationship with the MLBPA, tells Rosenthal that he no longer represents Rodriguez. One person close to Rodriguez offered Rosenthal the following explanation: "When people don’t tell him what he wants to hear, he goes out and finds someone who will." Rosenthal adds that Cornwell isn't well-liked by the MLBPA for his "bombastic, swing-for-the-fences" tactics.
While Ryan Braun accepted a 65-game suspension from the league for his part in the Biogenesis scandal, Alex Rodriguez currently has no plans to make any such deals and will appeal any PED-related suspension the league may level against him, USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports.
Rodriguez reportedly doesn't believe his case is comparable to Braun's, and Major League Baseball may agree in the sense that they're pursuing a lengthier suspension for the Yankee third baseman. Nightengale hears from a source that the league is looking to suspend Rodriguez for at least 100 games due to his longer history with PEDs and his part in the Biogenesis case, including a possible charge that Rodriguez tried to destroy evidence.
A 100-game suspension could cost Rodriguez roughly $21MM in salary. HIs return to the field in 2013 is in question due to both injuries and the possibility that the Yankees simply want nothing more to do with the controversial slugger. The Yankees could also potentially recoup 80% of Rodriguez's remaining salary through insurance policies if he is physically unable to play.
Earlier today, Major League Baseball announced that Ryan Braun has accepted a suspension for the remainder of the season (65 games) in lieu of filing an appeal following his connection to the Biogenesis PED scandal. This comes on the heels of Braun adamantly denying his use of performance enhancing drugs for nearly two years. Braun's situation will be one of the hottest topics in baseball in the coming days, and the chatter has already started.
Here are some of the reactions from media members and other players...
- Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets that Braun's teammates are glad that he was suspended and angry that they were lied to.
- Passan also tweeted that Braun's suspension will serve as a baseline for Alex Rodriguez's coming suspension. One source Passan spoke to said that A-Rod's suspension will be significantly longer.
- MLB could push for a 150-game suspension for Rodriguez, if it can prove multiple violations before and after interviews denying involvement with PEDs, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. He goes on to note that a 150-game suspension for a soon-to-be 38-year-old with two bad hips could put his career in jeopardy. As many as 15 more players could be facing suspensions in the coming weeks, Heyman adds.
- Heyman's colleague Scott Miller writes that Braun's apology today was weak and didn't come close to addressing all of the parties who needed to be addressed. Miller writes that Braun needs to apologize first and foremost to Dino Laurenzi Jr., the collector who Braun called into question following his initial positive test following his 2011 MVP campaign.
- ESPN's Buster Olney agrees that Braun's apologies have only just begun. He writes that the Brewers signed Braun to be the Cal Ripken of their franchise and instead watched him turn into the Lance Armstrong of Major League Baseball.
- White Sox reliever Jesse Crain told Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago that he is happy to see Braun suspended for using performance enhancing drugs. Jake Peavy, a close friend of Braun, told Hayes that he was surprised by the news and finds it amazing that anyone could try to get away with using PEDs given the testing in today's game.
- Dave Cameron of Fangraphs writes that suspending Braun for the remainder of a season in which the Brewers are 19 games out of first place is akin to pinch-hitting for him in a blowout game. The loss of Braun won't affect the Brewers' season this year and could even lead to a better draft pick for them in 2014. Cameron wouldn't be surprised to see other non-contenders with Biogenesis-connected players push them to take their suspensions without an appeal.
In a piece for CBSSports.com, Danny Knobler notes that the Yankees are pinning their playoff hopes on strong returns from aging stars like Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. Knobler opines that a recent comment from GM Brian Cashman ("These guys are trying, but...") is an admission that the current Yankees' lineup may not be good enough to carry the team to the playoffs. Cashman also commented on A-Rod's eventual return, saying his production at third base should be "better than [what] we've gotten from third base, with all due respect." However, in a recent tweet, ESPN's Buster Olney suggests that Rodriguez is likely to spend more time at DH than at third when he rejoins the Yankees. On to tonight's AL East links...
- Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News says Cashman needs to acquire a bat to bolster the team's fizzling attack, but Cashman reports that it's tough to find offense in this year's trade market. "The phone calls are taking place, but nothing to show for it,” Cashman said. “I think if you’re looking for offense, Exhibit A is, name me the bat that’s moved already? It hasn’t. Exhibit B is, look at all the big rumors out there – they’re involving pitchers ... It’s just an offensive offense market." McCarron suggests that the addition of the second wild card slot may be causing more teams to consider themselves contenders later into the season.
- Sources in the Red Sox organization tell Knobler that the team's top priority is relief pitching despite continuing uncertainty about starter Clay Buchholz, who hasn't pitched since June 8 and has no target return date. The Sox began the season with a strong bullpen, but injuries to Andrew Bailey, Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Miller have thinned out the team's relief corps, leading GM Ben Cherington to acquire lefty Matt Thornton from the White Sox last week. The Sox appear to be content with Koji Uehara as their closer, Knobler observes.
- The Red Sox also continue to monitor the trade market for third basemen, and it's believed they have significant interest in the Phillies' Michael Young, according to Knobler. However, Philadelphia's recent run of success means they don't appear to be in sell mode. The Brewers' Aramis Ramirez is a potential fit, but he's currently on the disabled list with a knee issue and may not return until right at the deadline, Knobler writes. Meanwhile, third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who manned the hot corner for much of 2012 for the Sox, continues to post mediocre numbers at Triple-A Pawtucket. However, Knobler says some in the Boston organization continue to hope he'll put things together.
- The Orioles are "tapped out" financially in terms of adding another player via trade, a team-connected source tells Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. GM Dan Duquette added righty Scott Feldman in a trade with the Cubs earlier this month. The O's aren't in the market for an ace pitcher, and any deal for a DH or outfielder would have to fit the team's limited budget. The Twins' Justin Morneau, who's owed $6MM for the remainder of the year, would be "too expensive," an Orioles source tells Heyman. Instead, O's fans should look for any help to come from within, Heyman says, citing the recently promoted outfield prospect Henry Urrutia and pitcher Kevin Gausman.
If you're looking for some interesting reading late into this Saturday night, you might try one of these two pieces. Recent Rangers acquisition and all-time great hitter Manny Ramirez may have remade himself over three months in Taiwan, writes Sam Graham-Felsen, or he may have just kept being Manny. Either way, with a strong start to his Triple-A assignment, Ramirez could be close to a fascinating return to the bigs. Just as unlikely, if not moreso, is the path of Blue Jays reliever Steve Delabar from washout to All Star; Harry Pavlidis of the Washington Post has the story. Elsewhere in the American League ...
- While the Cubs' Matt Garza currently pitches in the National League, Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com says that he could soon return to the AL. Levine reports that the Rangers and Blue Jays are the "front runners" in acquiring Garza's services for the balance of 2013. Though the Rangers have frequently been mentioned as pursuers of Garza, who figures to be the top starter available, the Jays have generally not been placed atop the list. Nevertheless, Levine says that Toronto has been very active in scouting the righty over his last three starts. As for Texas, Levine says that power-hitting prospect Mike Olt would probably be included in a deal.
- Another American League club, the Orioles, is likely out on Garza, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com. After already dealing for one Chicago starter, Scott Feldman, Baltimore apparently believes that Garza will require too large a commitment in prospects and cash to warrant a deal.
- If the Yankees were still hoping to get a contribution this year from fallen star Alex Rodriguez, the odds appear to be on the downturn. Bill Madden and Teri Thompson of the New York Daily News report that, after learning today of the nature of MLB's case against him arising out of the Biogenesis scandal, Rodriguez's representatives could be contemplating an attempt at a "plea deal" that could result in a 150-game suspension. (That a "clearly shaken" A-Rod reportedly went on to engage in yet another dust-up with the club over his rehab situation could be another hurdle to his return.)
- With Rodriguez and possibly other players considering such an arrangement to limit the scope of punishment, and the league reportedly prepared to move aggressively after the All-Star break, it is looking more and more likely that the impact of the scandal will be felt this season. While the potential for a drawn-out process remains, any agreements to bypass the appeals procedure and agree to penalties would presumably result in a more immediate imposition of suspensions.
5:21pm: An MLB spokesperson tells Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (via Twitter) that the news on Braun is premature and no decisions have been made.
5:07pm: Major League Baseball is expected to suspend Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez, and as many as 20 players connected to the Biogenesis clinic sometime after next week's All-Star break, several sources told T.J. Quinn and Mike Fish of ESPN.com. Commissioner Bud Selig's office is considering 100-game bans for Braun and Rodriguez, the punishment for a second offense, despite neither player receiving a previous suspension for violating MLB drug rules.
Suspensions appear to be a certainty for both players and the only issue in question is the length of time that they'll be sidelined. One source said that the league's argument would be that they, and possibly other players, committed multiple offenses by receiving PEDs from Tony Bosch's clinic and lying about it.
As Quinn explains on Twitter, suspensions are usually levied, appealed, and ruled upon by an arbitrator months later before becoming public, but MLB is allowed to announce suspensions publicly because case has been public. Players who appeal the forthcoming suspensions may continue playing until an arbitrator rules, however.
Braun, who has repeatedly denied using PEDs, refused to answer questions during a recent meeting with the league office about his connection to Bosch, according to sources. Rodriguez will meet with baseball officials on Friday, sources familiar with the meeting tell Michael O'Keeffe, BIll Madden, Nathaniel Vinton, and Teri Thompson of the Daily News.
Late last month, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that suspensions were likely in the Biogenesis case. Nelson Cruz, Everth Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta, Jesus Montero, and Bartolo Colon were among the other players linked to Biogenesis in the initial report.
The Yankees dropped a 4-2 result to the Orioles tonight, giving the Bombers an 11-16 record in June and extending their losing streak to five games. Here's the latest from the Bronx...
- Alex Rodriguez and Yankees GM Brian Cashman shared some harsh words this week but team president Randy Levine told ESPN New York's Ian O'Connor that the Yankees both want and "need Alex back" as soon as possible. "We are desperate for his right-handed power, and he's better than any third baseman on this team right now," Levine said. "Alex is going to help us. Obviously, it's no secret that we're struggling against left-handed pitching, that our whole offense is struggling, and that we've had very, very serious injuries....Any semblance of A-Rod would help us. Even last year's A-Rod would be a big upgrade over what we have right now."
- The Yankees have scouted Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez but won't pursue signing him, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. One scout tells King that it "looks like the Dodgers" will sign the 26-year-old, echoing rumors that the Dodgers are willing to "go all out" to acquire Gonzalez.
- Also from King, the Yankees are interested in two players from the Dominican Republic: third baseman Rafael Devers and center fielder Leonardo Molina. The Yankees have been considered to be the "most likely suitor" for the 15-year-old Molina, while the Phillies and Red Sox have also been linked to Devers.
Alex Rodriguez believes the Yankees do not want him to return this season, and perhaps ever again, a source told Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com. The source says that A-Rod thinks the Yankees are deliberately slowing his return to their active roster in the hope they can have him declared medically unfit to play this season, enabling them to recoup the bulk of his $28MM salary through insurance. "Alex thinks there's something really off about this situation," the source said. "Here we have a doctor declaring him fit to play. You think they would be happy about that." Recently, Rodriguez tweeted that he was excited to have the green light from his doctor to play games again and Cashman responded to Matthews' colleague Andrew Marchand by saying, in slightly sharper language, that Rodriguez should keep that sort of thing under his hat. Here's more from around baseball..
- The Yankees could be a trade partner for the Phillies, opines Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, and Michael Young could be of serious interest to the Yankees, who are in the market for catching and corner-infield help. A baseball exec tells Salisbury that the Yanks have already kicked around Ruiz’s name as a possible upgrade behind the plate.
- The Rangers are in the market for a starting pitcher if there is a significant upgrade available, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Daniels likes his young starters and wants to see what happens with Alexi Ogando and Colby Lewis, but he did acknowledge he will consider trading for starting pitching. He added that he expects ownership to support any major moves the Rangers attempt, if there is extra finances involved.
- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto asserts that he is neither a buyer or a seller as the deadline approaches, writes MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. “I don’t see drastic paths. We have a roster of veteran players, most of whom are under club control, a very talented offensive club, pitching staff is evolving, some pending free agents, many others under club control. We’ll assess as we go," said the GM.
Major League Baseball has begun interviewing players connected to the Biogenesis PED scandal, and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that people who have spoken with MLB investigators feel it's likely that some suspensions will be issued.
MLB has yet to interview either Alex Rodriguez or Ryan Braun, according to Heyman, because the league considers them its primary targets and wants to ensure that enough evidence has been built against the pair before conducting those interviews.
Heyman reports that the MLB will claim the Joint Drug Agreement legally allows them to issue suspensions prior to the appeals process, because the names involved have already been leaked. This would obviously be a large point of contention for the MLB Players Association, who will argue that suspensions cannot be issued or announced until a player has had the opportunity to appeal.
MLB is also interviewing Porter Fischer, the former Biogenesis employee who is responsible for leaking Biogenesis founder Tony Bosch's notebooks and records to the Miami New Times. MLB has reportedly interviewed Fischer three times now in an attempt to stockpile evidence. Heyman reminds that there are varying degrees of mentions in Fischer's documents; for example, Rodriguez's name allegedly appears alongside mentions of specific PEDs, while Braun's name only appears next to dollar amounts.
Nelson Cruz, Everth Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta, Jesus Montero and Bartolo Colon were among the other players linked to Biogenesis in the initial report. Earlier this month, ESPN's Buster Olney stated that it could be months before suspensions are handed out due to the appeals process, so the ability to circumvent that process would be a significant step for MLB in this case.
Tonight's Brewers vs. Marlins matchup surely was of interest to teams that might pursue starting pitching in the trade market, Danny Knobler of CBS Sports tweeted at the beginning of the game. Yovani Gallardo started for the Brewers and pitched eight shutout innings, striking out four and walking one. The Marlins' Ricky Nolasco, another trade candidate, didn't fare so well, allowing four runs while striking out five and walking two over 5 1/3 innings. Here are more notes from around the league.
- Last November, the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks expressed interest in Alex Rodriguez, Ken Belson and David Waldstein of the New York Times report. The Yankees never discussed the matter with the Japanese team, because they knew Rodriguez required hip surgery that would limit him in 2013, and because they knew Rodriguez would not consent to playing overseas.
- Ike Davis' poor performance (and subsequent demotion) may make him a non-tender candidate in the coming offseason, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York argues. Davis will make $3.125MM this season, and will be eliglble for arbitration next season. He hit .161/.242/.258 in 207 plate appearances this year before the Mets shipped him to Triple-A Las Vegas. Last month, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes discussed many potential non-tender candidates, including Davis, Clayton Richard, and Chris Perez.
- The Pirates have had a number of surprisingly good pitching performances this year, and what connects them is catcher Russell Martin, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Martin's pitch-framing is highly-regarded, and he also wins praise for his game-calling. His impact on the Pirates' pitching staff makes the two-year, $17MM contract to which the Bucs signed him this offseason look like a very good one, Sawchik argues.
- The Astros are rebuilding the right way, says ESPN's Jim Bowden in a new video. Bowden argues that GM Jeff Luhnow, manager Bo Porter and new president Reid Ryan are the right leaders for the Astros. Bowden also says the Astros' top draft picks help set them up to the future. The Astros selected Carlos Correa first overall in 2012, then grabbed Mark Appel with this year's top pick. They'll also have a very high pick next year. Not trying to spend their way out of last place is the right strategy for the Astros, Bowden says, because of the top picks they get as a result.
- The Orioles are not interested in Jon Garland, MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko tweets. The Rockies released Garland this afternoon after he posted a 5.82 ERA with 4.2 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 for them.