NEW YORK – Alex Rodriguez accepted his season-long suspension from Major League Baseball on Friday, the longest penalty in the sport’s history related to performance-enhancing drugs.
The decision came nearly four weeks after arbitrator Fredric Horowitz issued his decision largely upholding the penalty issued to the New York Yankees third baseman last summer by baseball Commissioner Bud Selig.
Rodriguez had repeatedly proclaimed his innocence and sued MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association in federal court to overturn the penalty.
But 27 days after Horowitz’s decision, the three-time AL MVP withdrew the lawsuit and a previous action filed in October claiming MLB and Selig were engaged in a “witch hunt” against him. Rodriguez became the 14th and final player to accept a suspension following baseball’s investigation of the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic.
“I think it’s a good move for him,” former Commissioner Fay Vincent said. “A-Rod had no chance legally, and the commissioner got his authority validated.”
MLB issued low-key statement calling the decision to end the litigation “prudent.”
“We believe that Mr. Rodriguez’s actions show his desire to return the focus to the play of our great game on the field and to all of the positive attributes and actions of his fellow major league players,” the sport said. “We share that desire.”
Rodriguez had angered many of his fellow players by suing his own union in an attempt to avoid a suspension.
“Alex Rodriguez has done the right thing by withdrawing his lawsuit,” the union said in a statement. “His decision to move forward is in everyone’s best interest.”
After Horowitz issued his decision on Jan. 11, Rodriguez put out a defiant statement proclaiming “no player should have to go through what I have been dealing with” and promising “I am exhausting all options to ensure not only that I get justice, but that players’ contracts and rights are protected.”
But a few hours after the Arizona Diamondbacks became the first team this year to start spring training workouts, and with the Yankees a week from opening camp, Rodriguez folded quietly.
“We stand by the statements issued and have no further comment,” Rodriguez spokesman Ron Berkowitz said.
Rodriguez will lose most of his $25 million salary — Horowitz ruled he is entitled to 21-183rds, $2,868,852.46. He will be 39 when he is eligible to return in a year, and he has incentive to play during the final three seasons of his contract. The Yankees owe him $21 million in 2015 and $20 million in each of the final two seasons of the record $275 million, 10-year deal.
But the 14-time All-Star has been hobbled by injuries in recent years and has not played a full season since 2007.
The timing of Rodriguez’s decision was set in motion by U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos, who on Jan. 30 told the player’s lawyers to respond by Friday to arguments from MLB and the union that the case should be dismissed.