Yankees GM Brian Cashman confirmed long-standing reports that the club does not intend to pay Alex Rodriguez a $6MM “milestone” marketing bonus for his 660th home run, as Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports.
“We have the right, but not the obligation to do something, and that’s it,” Cashman said. “We’re going to honor our responsibilities of the contract. So there is no dispute, from our perspective.”
Of course, the move was widely expected long before Rodriguez matched Willie Mays with a pinch-hit blast at Fenway. Though only $6MM is directly at issue, avoiding the payment would actually keep $9MM in the Yankees’ coffers because of the luxury tax that would come with it.
If and when a grievance is filed, the issue will be one of contract interpretation for a unique clause. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported key details of the clause back in February, writing that the provision permits New York to elect whether or not to “designate” various record-tying home runs as “milestones” — so long as the “decision is made in good faith and in accordance with the intent of the parties.” As I explained at the time, and as Cashman’s comments reflect, that language gives facial validity to the Yankees’ position.
Of course, an arbitrator will ultimately likely be left to decide the matter, and the MLBPA is “prepared to intervene on Alex’s behalf,” spokesman Greg Bouris said, via Steven Marcus of Newsday. I’d expect that the union and/or Rodriguez will look to explore all aspects of the matter, potentially including the Yankees’ knowledge of Rodriguez’s PED usage and the negotiations that took place at the time that the contract was agreed upon.