Report: A-Rod's fate up in the air
Major League Baseball is expected to announce the Biogenesis-related suspensions of a number of players on Sunday or Monday, but Alex Rodriguez’s fate remains up in the air, according to a New York Post report.
MLB wanted to have all of the suspensions completed on Friday, before teams get to the point of having 50 games left in the season. But coordinating lawyers, teams and the union made that impossible, the report said.
A Monday announcement is more likely as MLB would have to complete the procedure on Sunday before games begin at 1 p.m. ET.
Rodriguez's suspension is expected to be significantly more serious than the others, and the situation surrounding him is more complicated.
Exactly which players will be suspended is not yet known, but the group is widely believed to include Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta, Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera and Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli.
Those players are expected to be suspended for 50 games, with the possibility that some or all of them could receive an additional 15 games for impeding MLB’s investigation, according to the New York Post. Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun already accepted a 65-game suspension with that same breakdown — 50 games for steroids and 15 for interfering with the investigation.
MLB wanted to get the suspensions worked out as quickly as possible to offer an incentive to the players involved. By accepting the suspensions and not appealing, the players can serve their time this season and go into the offseason and next year without the Biogenesis cloud still hanging over them.
Because Rodriguez’s suspension is expected to be much longer than the others, it is not as important that the negotiation with him be completed immediately — his offseason and next year will be impacted regardless.
MLB is planning to suspend A-Rod for at least the rest of this season and all of next year, according to the Post. The league also has not ruled out a lifetime ban, especially if Rodriguez files a grievance related to his suspension. In fact, USA Today reports Rodriguez must choose either a ban through the 2014 season (217 games and a loss of $34.5 million in salary, if the suspension began Friday) or a lifetime ban.
The league remains in contact with the players union, which in turn remains in contact with Rodriguez’s people. A settlement is still possible between the two sides, but Rodriguez’s lawyer David Cornwall repeatedly has said they plan to appeal any suspension handed down. According to an ESPN report, negotiations between Rodriguez and the league have stalled.
There also remains the possibility that commissioner Bud Selig could make use of his “best interests of baseball” powers, a clause that came into being after the Black Sox game-fixing scandal in the 1919 World Series. Selig has the ability to punish any player or team that he deems has damaged the integrity of the game itself.
If Selig does levy that punishment against Rodriguez, A-Rod would be powerless to appeal whatever suspension he receives. However, the Post reports that Selig may not be willing to go that far because it could damage his relationship with the players association.
A seemingly relaxed Rodriguez is in Trenton for a rehab assignment with the Double-A Trenton Thunder.
He did not field questions Friday from a massive media contingent before taking batting practice, throwing and fielding ground balls in preparation for the game against the Reading Fightin Phils.
The three-time American League MVP, coming back from January hip surgery, is starting a second minor league injury rehabilitation assignment, this time for a strained quadriceps. New York says he'll also play for Trenton on Saturday, and he hopes to rejoin the Yankees quickly, perhaps by Monday's series opener at the Chicago White Sox.
But he may be suspended by then.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)