Alex Rodriguez finally learned his fate when arbitrator Fredric Horowitz dropped his suspension from 211 games to 162 games, first reported by USA Today's Bob Nightengale. In the process, it has given the New York Yankees salary relief for the 2014 season by wiping A-Rod's money off of the books.
Now is the time for the Yankees to release Rodriguez.
The Yankees are faced with the date of February 14. That's the date when pitchers and catchers report to spring training. ESPN's Jayson Stark says that it is unlikely that Rodriguez would attend spring training or be allowed on the major league fields by the Yankees.
At this point, A-Rod might want to come to camp and make the Yankees squirm. There doesn't seem to be any love lost between the player and the entire organization. Even after losing his arbitration hearing, A-Rod has moved on to filing a lawsuit, detailed here by the AP's Ronald Blum and Larry Neumeister, against the MLB and the player's union.
It's the last thing the Yankees and manager Joe Girardi need to deal with, answering questions and dealing with a huge media presence for a player who won't even play one game for the Yankees this season. While New York could stash him at the minor league complex, it still seems like it would be a giant distraction and impact the ability of the Yankees prospects to conduct a normal spring routine.
New York needs to make a clean break and avoid the circus that would likely come to spring training this year or next. A-Rod's suspension covers the regular season and the postseason, but he might still be allowed to work out with the team and go to spring training.
The Yankees need to take it a step further and spend the next two weeks trying to find a resolution to make the A-Rod headache go away. New York must make it clear to Rodriguez and his representatives that he will never wear pinstripes again. The Yankees might be able to broker a settlement with A-Rod's camp, giving him a year to rehab and pick his next opportunity.
If the sides can't come to an agreement, the Yankees must release A-Rod immediately. While New York will be frustrated by eating the remaining three years and $61 million left on his contract, this is still an ideal time to cut A-Rod loose and be done with him.
A-Rod might have some right to claim that MLB and commissioner Bud Selig are out to get him, but he is unlikely to find anyone sympathetic to his cause. Nobody knows what the truth is, and no one believes that A-Rod is completely innocent here. A-Rod is not the victim here, he is simply part of the problem.
The Yankees need to do the right thing and remove the headache. They saved millions when A-Rod's suspension was upheld. Sure, eating the remaining $61 million will be difficult to swallow, but it would be worth it just to get A-Rod as far away from pinstripes as they can. Maybe they feel they can get some of that money back in court, but again, they have already recouped roughly $24 million. Whatever additional money just might not be worth it.
This figures to be a huge transitional year for New York. The organization will already be dealing with the defection of Robinson Cano as well as the retirements of Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte while welcoming newcomers like Masahiro Tanaka, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann into the fold.
The last thing the Yankees need is A-Rod bringing a black cloud over all of that and causing even more drama than he has already brought to the team.
Rodriguez seems like he is only motivated at this point by money and his legacy. A-Rod will never get into the Hall of Fame. The suspension being upheld guarantees it. It is unlikely that A-Rod will even play in the majors again.
Barry Bonds was unable to find a job in the majors after leaving the San Francisco Giants, even though it would have required only a one-year deal on short money. Bonds was still a productive player and wasn't coming off of a one-year suspension.
Rodriguez should take a look at Bonds and realize that it's over now. Would the Miami Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays or Houston Astros take a shot at him next year? I think it is doubtful that the interest in A-Rod would be enough for those franchises to add a player like Rodriguez to the team. He'll basically be a 40-year-old designated hitter with bad hips and enough baggage to fill an entire clubhouse.
It's hard to see anyone interested in bringing that aboard.