What a Potential A-Rod PED Suspension Would Mean for His, Yankees' Future
The volatile marriage between Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees is going to reach another crossroads very soon, at least if you believe that Major League Baseball has enough bullets in the chamber to finally make this Biogenesis scandal go away once and for all.
According to the New York Daily News, Rodriguez will be interviewed by baseball officials on Friday about his connection to Anthony Bosch, the founder of the Biogenesis clinic and alleged performance-enhancing drug distributor.
Rodriguez is one of roughly 20 current big leaguers who MLB is looking to suspend for 100 games thanks to their connection to Bosch and the Miami-based clinic. Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, the other "big" name in this scandal, was reportedly interviewed by MLB on June 29 and refused to answer questions.
Baseball set the suspension bar at 100 games, which is the equivalent of two failed drug tests. The rationale on MLB's side is that being connected to Bosch and Biogenesis constitutes one failed test and past denials about the use of or connection to PEDs is a second offense.
The Daily News report also notes from sources that baseball could push to get a lifetime ban for Rodriguez, likely since he already admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs in a 2009 interview with Peter Gammons.
However, the report does say that Rodriguez and his camp have prepared a "hefty defense that he believes will exonerate him."
But this brings us to issues on the field, specifically what a potential suspension would do for Rodriguez and the Yankees. We don't know what exactly MLB has on Rodriguez and the other players involved in the scandal, so it is hard to say if any punishment handed down will stick.
Let's just play devil's advocate and say that Rodriguez winds up getting a 100-game suspension, ending any hope he has of playing this season and taking away a few games for 2014.
How a suspension would change Rodriguez's future
Rumors about Rodriguez retiring after playing in rehab games in order to collect the full $114 million he is still owed on the contract he signed after the 2007 season have been swirling for weeks.
While that doesn't seem to be the case, since Rodriguez is still playing and has given no indication he will walk away right now, it will be interesting to see what, if anything, changes after his meeting with MLB on Friday.
If Rodriguez gets suspended for 100 games, ending his 2013 season, the last time he will have played in a big league game would be October 18, 2012. If he has to sit out, say, the first 30 games of next year until his penalty ends, Rodriguez would return roughly around May 1, 2014 at the age of 38.
A 19-month layoff for a player his age and present skill set would wreak even more havoc on Rodriguez's performance than if he were able to return to the Yankees lineup tomorrow. His timing would be a mess, we know he has no bat speed and struggles to get leverage in his swing thanks to the hip problems.
So if there is a chance Rodriguez could walk away from the game AND collect the money still owed to him by the Yankees, you have to think there is a way that he tries to do that.
Even for a player as self-conscious as Rodriguez, there comes a point where you just have to accept that no matter what happens or how much you try to please everyone, there is no way that the fans or teammates will embrace you as much as you think they should.
Forget trying to save your image, because that ship sailed long ago. If Rodriguez had retired after the 2009 postseason, when he was the best hitter on the Yankees and instrumental in that championship, he probably would have been a beloved figure to the fans.
But ever since that shining moment, Rodriguez's career has gone downhill. He played in 358 out of a possible 486 games from 2010-12 and hasn't broken the 20-homer barrier since the 2010 season.
Of course, another possible solution for Rodriguez could be one that gets made for him. If the Yankees decide that they want to be rid of the headache, the team could just cut ties with him and eat the contract.
While that doesn't seem likely because the amount owed is so exorbitant, some might justify it as addition by subtraction. Another potential solution is shopping Rodriguez and paying a majority of his salary, but saving a little money in the long run by not paying 100 percent of the contract.
How will the Rodriguez-Yankees marriage end?
Granted, that rumor came out two months before the Marlins front office and ownership blew up the entire roster and has refused to pay anyone more than the minimum salary after using a lot of taxpayer money to get a new stadium built.
Miami would be the perfect place for Rodriguez to go if he wants to play baseball and lay low, since no one pays attention to that franchise now. But it is hard to see him ending his career with this particular iteration of the team.
And considering where Rodriguez is at physically and the circus he would bring, there wouldn't seem to be a lot of suitors for his services.
Even the Yankees, who have been using a combination of David Adams and Luis Cruz at third base, would be thrilled to get away from Rodriguez, even though he would look like a superstar compared to what Adams and Cruz have produced.
A suspension could be the final straw in what has been a historic, infamous and volatile career for Rodriguez. It would more than likely signal the end rather than an opportunity for a new/fresh start somewhere else, because who wants the kind of baggage that he carries?
How an A-Rod suspension would change the Yankees' future
The best thing that could happen to the Yankees would be Rodriguez getting suspended. It would save them money and push him one step closer towards retirement, getting them out from under the idiotic contract they gave him six years ago.
But that's not entirely true, as the thing the Yankees would likely prefer, even more than a suspension, is Rodriguez retiring so they don't have to worry about playing the media game and answering questions about his comeback again.
We already know that Rodriguez and general manager Brian Cashman have some friction, even if they are saying all the right things now. Does anyone actually think that the two sides are going to exchange Christmas cards?
By being out of the money that Rodriguez is owed, not only would the Yankees be able to re-sign Robinson Cano with little concern but they could also dip back into the free-agent market.
And I mean actually dip in like we have gotten accustomed to seeing from this franchise, not just signing one-year players well past their prime like Travis Hafner and Kevin Youkilis.
That doesn't mean they should follow that strategy, since paying top dollar for players like Rodriguez and others is what got them into trouble in the first place. But just having flexibility would be great for this franchise, which really needs a lot of help to get back to title contention.
Yet the Yankees are really in an unenviable spot with this whole situation, because virtually all of it is out of their control.
Rodriguez being suspended would be a Major League Baseball decision and force the team to go with the battery it has been using all year with middling (at best) results. Their chances of making the playoffs would be exactly what they are right now, which isn't very good given the strength of the division and American League as a whole.
But on the other side, even if the Yankees would like to get away from Rodriguez, they can't trade him because he has 10-5 rights and can veto any deal. There also aren't going to be a lot of teams beating down the door to acquire a soon-to-be 38-year-old coming off hip surgery.
And releasing Rodriguez doesn't really help the Yankees, because they would still be forced to pay him the rest of the money he is owed.
Everything is in the hands of Rodriguez, even if he gets suspended. He controls how long he plays and, if anyone would want to deal for him, where he plays. Their future is being controlled by the one player they would like to run out of town faster than George Steinbrenner fired Billy Martin.
If you want to talk baseball, feel free to hit me up on Twitter with questions or comments.
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