Rodriguez banned for entire 2014 seasonJanuary 12, 2014 « Finch hundred sets up Australia win | Rafter to make shock return at Australian Open »
Alex Rodriguez has been suspended for the entire 2014 season by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, who reduced the New York Yankees third baseman's ban from 211 games to 162 for his involvement in Major League Baseball's Biogenesis scandal.
The suspension also includes all potential play-off games in 2014. As expected, Rodriguez said he will contest Saturday's ruling in federal court.
The decision will relieve the Yankees of about $24 million in luxury-tax savings based on A-Rod's 2014 salary; the team still owes him about $61m for 2015-17.
Horowitz's ruling upholds a good portion of the original 211-game suspension levied by MLB, which banned Rodriguez in August after concluding its investigation. Rodriguez continued playing after appealing.
Twelve other players were suspended as a result of the investigation, although none for longer than the 65 games given to Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun. The other players were suspended 50 games, the punishment for first-time drug offenders stipulated by baseball's collective bargaining agreement.
According to spokesman Ron Berkowitz, A-Rod plans on attending spring training, and will be allowed to participate due to a loophole in the suspension. Rodriguez's side argues that if he is able to receive an injunction to stop the suspension, he will able to play and thus should prepare for the season.
The Yankees could tell him not to come to Tampa, Florida. Last spring training, Rodriguez was not with his teammates at all as he rehabbed from hip surgery.
While the decision is a reduction of the punishment baseball sought, it still could mean the end of Rodriguez's playing career.
He will turn 39 in July and, coming off two hip surgeries and a 2013 season in which he played just 44 games, may not be able to return after sitting out an entire season. Rodriguez will go off the Yankees' 40-man roster and onto a restricted list. The team will be able to fill the roster spot.
The Yankees will get a season's worth of salary relief against the luxury tax - or, based on the 162-game, 183-day season, about $24.1m.
Rodriguez is set to make salaries of $21m, $20m and $20m over the three remaining seasons. For luxury-tax purposes, teams are charged prorated portions of the deal annually - so Rodriguez's luxury-tax figure was one-tenth of $275m, or $27.5m . But the suspension is for 162 games, not the full 183 days, so the Yankees will be charged the prorated portion of $27.5m.
The suspension is the culmination of a nearly yearlong process dating to a story in the Miami New Times last January that revealed the names of Rodriguez and others in the records of Biogenesis, a now-shuttered Coral Gables anti-aging clinic suspected of being a source of performance-enhancing drugs for MLB players and other athletes.
The testimony of Anthony Bosch, the clinic's proprietor, was a key element in baseball's case against Rodriguez, as were copies of the records, which baseball paid in excess of $125,000 to obtain.
Bosch is to appear on Sunday on the "60 Minutes'' television program along with MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred. In an interview with "CBS Evening News" on Saturday, Scott Pelley of "60 Minutes'' said Bosch told him he administered six banned substances to Rodriguez, including "testosterone, insulin growth factor 1, human growth hormone and some different forms of peptides."
Bosch also said during the interview that "Alex is scared of needles so at times he would ask me to inject [him personally]."
Rodriguez's spokesman issued a statement before the decision was officially announced, calling the suspension "inconsistent" and based on "false and wholly unreliable testimony."
"The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one," Rodriguez said in the statement. "This is one man's decision, that was not put before a fair and impartial jury, does not involve me having failed a single drug test, is at odds with the facts and is inconsistent with the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement, and relies on testimony and documents that would never have been allowed in any court in the United States because they are false and wholly unreliable.
"This injustice is MLB's first step toward abolishing guaranteed contracts in the 2016 bargaining round, instituting lifetime bans for single violations of drug policy, and further insulating its corrupt investigative program from any variety defense by accused players, or any variety of objective review."
MLB defended the length of the original suspension in a news release.
"For more than five decades, the arbitration process under the Basic Agreement has been a fair and effective mechanism for resolving disputes and protecting player rights," MLB said in the statement. "While we believe the original 211-game suspension was appropriate, we respect the decision rendered by the Panel and will focus on our continuing efforts on eliminating performance-enhancing substances from our game."
In a separate statement, the Yankees said they "respect Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, the arbitration process, as well as the decision released today by the arbitration panel."
A spokeswoman for Bosch said he thought the suspension was deserved.
"Tony Bosch doesn't take joy in seeing Alex Rodriguez suspended from baseball, but he believes the arbitrator's decision was appropriate," Joyce Fitzpatrick said in a statement. "He is glad to have the arbitration behind him and believes he can play a valuable role in the future by educating athletes about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs."
Rodriguez reiterated his claim that he has not taken any PEDs in his time with the Yankees. The three-time American League MVP was the biggest name linked last year to Biogenesis.
"I have been clear that I did not use performance enhancing substances as alleged in the notice of discipline, or violate the Basic Agreement or the Joint Drug Agreement in any manner, and in order to prove it I will take this fight to federal court," Rodriguez said in his statement. "I am confident that when a Federal Judge reviews the entirety of the record, the hearsay testimony of a criminal whose own records demonstrate that he dealt drugs to minors, and the lack of credible evidence put forth by MLB, that the judge will find that the panel blatantly disregarded the law and facts, and will overturn the suspension.
"No player should have to go through what I have been dealing with, and I am exhausting all options to ensure not only that I get justice, but that players' contracts and rights are protected through the next round of bargaining, and that the MLB investigation and arbitration process cannot be used against others in the future the way it is currently being used to unjustly punish me.
"I will continue to work hard to get back on the field and help the Yankees achieve the ultimate goal of winning another championship. I want to sincerely thank my family, all of my friends, and of course the fans and many of my fellow MLB players for the incredible support I received throughout this entire ordeal."