A-Rod, MLB discussed lighter penalty

New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez could have accepted a suspension for far less than 211 games.

Rodriguez’s settlement discussions with Major League Baseball over his role in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing-drug scandal included proposals for significantly lower penalties, sources told FOX Sports.

In April, baseball even floated a 50-game suspension, according to multiple sources. Rodriguez, however, was not willing to work toward such a deal and hired new representation because he wanted to mount a more aggressive fight, sources said.

Major League Baseball disputes that it ever offered Rodriguez a 50-game suspension, with one source saying that it was Rodriguez who actively pursued such a deal, only to be rebuffed.

Others, however, say that the two sides discussed numerous concepts before baseball announced its suspension of Rodriguez on Aug. 5.

“At different points, it could have been way, way less than where it is now,” one source said.

Rodriguez is appealing his suspension, and an arbitrator is not expected to rule on the matter until the offseason.

At the time the 50-game concept would have been discussed, Rodriguez’s attorney was Jay Reisinger, who maintains strong relationships with the commissioner’s office and players’ union and represented eight of the 12 players who accepted suspensions Aug. 5 for violating baseball’s drug policy.

In June, Rodriguez added David Cornwell to his legal team, leading to the departure of Reisinger, sources said. Cornwell quickly turned antagonistic, telling USA Today on June 20 that baseball’s conduct during its investigation of Rodriguez and other alleged Biogenesis clients was “despicable, unethical and potentially illegal.”

Rodriguez since has added another attorney, Joseph Tacopina, who on Friday accused both the Yankees and baseball of mistreating Rodriguez, in a series of bold remarks to the New York Times.

Tacopina told the Times that the Yankees tried to accelerate the end of Rodriguez’s career by playing him when he was injured, that baseball commissioner Bud Selig sought to make Rodriguez the “poster boy” for doping and that the Yankees and Selig were working together to sideline Rodriguez and nullify his contract.

Both the Yankees and baseball denied the charges.

“I have yet to see Alex Rodriguez or any of his representatives say that Alex Rodriguez didn’t use PEDs,” Rob Manfred, an MLB executive vice president, told the Times. “They’ve adopted a strategy to make a circus atmosphere of irrelevant allegations.”

Rodriguez could have avoided the ugliness by cutting a deal with baseball.

If Rodriguez had negotiated a 50-game suspension in April, he could have served the entire penalty on the disabled list while recovering from hip surgery. He did not join the Yankees until Aug. 5, missing the team’s first 110 games.

In the interim, baseball reached agreement with Biogenesis founder Tony Bosch to secure his cooperation in the sport’s investigation of Rodriguez and others.

Baseball began obtaining information and materials from Bosch in early June. It is not known whether the additional information contributed to Selig’s decision to suspend Rodriguez for 211 games.

One new development is that Bosch is now the focus of a federal investigation into whether Biogenesis illegally sold controlled substances to high school students, according to the Miami Herald.

Baseball, as part of its agreement with Bosch, agreed to assist him with any law-enforcement agency that brought charges against him, according to ESPN.com. But the investigation could limit how much evidence Bosch could substantiate during the appeals process, potentially strengthening Rodriguez’s case, sources said.

Baseball, in announcing Rodriguez’s penalty, said his suspension under the Joint Drug Agreement was “based on his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone, over the course of multiple years.”

Rodriguez also was disciplined under the sport’s labor agreement “for attempting to cover up his violations of the program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner’s investigation.”