Major League Baseball has reportedly told Alex Rodriguez it has more than enough evidence the Yankee third baseman used performance-enhancing drugs and has offered him a deal: accept a suspension without pay through the end of the 2014 season or face a lifetime ban.
According to the New York Daily News, both suspensions would be without pay, so if Rodriguez accepts the first deal he would still have a chance to collect the $61 million the Yankees owe him from 2015-17. If he is suspended for life, however, he could lose more than $100 million.
Rodriguez has promised to fight any attempted suspension.
Rodriguez is one of approximately 20 major leagues who are being investigated for their involvement with Biogenesis, a now-shuttered anti-aging clinic in South Florida. Tony Bosch, the former director of the clinic, is participating in the MLB probe and has reportedly provided investigators with logs, notes, receipts, phone records and other information.
The timing of an announcement involving Rodriguez is interesting given the Yankees’ decision last week to delay his return from the disabled list despite the fact Rodriguez said he is not hurt. Rodriguez, who hasn’t played this season after undergoing off-season hip surgery, had completed a minor league rehab assignment and was expected back in the Yankee lineup last Monday. But the team postponed that, saying Rodriguez had a quadriceps strain and wouldn’t return until Aug. 1.
Rodriguez protested and had an exam done by another doctor, who found no strain.
For the Yankees, as for Rodriguez, the negotiations are all about money. If Rodriguez, who hasn’t played this season, appeals any ban, he would be paid while the appeal is being heard. That could take at least six weeks, possibly longer.
But if Rodriguez accepts the penalty, he would not be paid while serving the suspension, saving the Yankees more than $30 million and pushing the team’s overall payroll for 2014 closer to the luxury-tax limit of $189 million, a goal owner Hal Steinbrenner has set for his front office.
Given Rodriguez’s age and recent health problems – he is 38 and has played more than 124 games just once since 2008 – even a ban that ends after the 2014 season would likely end Rodriguez’s career. The Daily News reported that should that happen Rodriguez would likely be forced to retire and be placed on baseball’s permanently unable to play list, at which point there would be negotiations among his legal team, the Yankees and both sides’ insurance companies over a settlement that would pay him the balance of his contract.