The best and worst cases for A-Rod’s appeal

The Yankees lost to the Rays while I stood in line for a Mariano Rivera bobblehead
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When the Yankees’ season comes to an inevitable end following Sunday’s game against the Astros, Alex Rodriguez‘s appeal will finally begin. The process is set to begin on Monday and is expected to last several sessions. A-Rod‘s legal team, MLB officials, and arbitrator Frederic Horowitz held preliminary meetings earlier this month, but Monday marks the official start of the appeal.

According to union head Michael Weiner and various reports, it’s possible a ruling may not come until November or December. That would be bad. The Yankees want to know what’s going on with their third baseman as soon as possible so they can plan their offseason accordingly. They don’t have to pay Rodriguez during his suspension, so they’d save a considerable amount of money and would have to decide where (or if, I suppose) they’ll spend it. The non-tender deadline is in late-November and the Winter Meetings are in early-December, and you can be sure the team would like a resolution before then.

Horowitz can do one of three things. He can uphold the original 211-game suspension, overturn it completely, or reduce the number of games to whatever he decides. This isn’t an either/or thing. Based on the mountains of evidence MLB claims to have against A-Rod, it’s widely believed he’ll end up serving some kind of suspension. We just don’t know what. The standard ban for first-time offenders — which Alex is — is 50 games, so his legal team will probably argue the extra 161 games are an excessive punishment for allegedly impeding the investigation. There’s no collective-bargained document that deals with that kind of stuff, so MLB pulled that “161 games” number out of thin air.

As far as the Yankees are concerned, there is a best and worst case scenario for A-Rod’s suspension. That goes beyond planning their offseason, I’m talking about on-field impact in 2014 and beyond. Even if the hearing is held on Monday and they get a ruling on Tuesday, it could still be bad for the Yankees. Let’s break down the various scenarios.

Best Case Scenario: 162-Game Suspension (or more)
The Yankees have made it very clear they don’t like Rodriguez and want him gone. Can’t tarnish that otherwise pristine New York Yankees legacy, after all. A suspension that causes Alex to miss the entire 2014 season would effectively end his career. He’s had a hard enough time staying on the field due to various injuries in recent years, and even though he’s shown these last few weeks that he can still be an effective player, it’s hard to imagine any player returning at from a year-long hiatus on the cusp of their 40th birthday and being effective. Well, any player other than Andy Pettitte, I suppose.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

If A-Rod is banned for all of next season, the Yankees will save his $25M salary and boy would that go a long way towards helping them get under the $189M luxury tax threshold. They would also know they need to find an everyday third baseman for 2014, not a short-term stopgap. There would still be three years and $61M left on Rodriguez’s contract after he returns in 2015, making a buyout much easier to swallow from the team’s point of view. That’s a lot of money to eat, but it’s pretty much a sunk cost already. A-Rod isn’t marketable and his on-field value is dwindling. Knowing he’ll miss all of next year is the best thing that could happen to the team.

Okay Case Scenario: 50-Game Suspension (or less)
It won’t be less, but I’ll throw the qualifier in there anyway. Horowitz could decide Rodriguez deserves the same 50-game ban as every other first time offender and nothing more, which means he would return to the team sometime in late-May. The Yankees would save approximately $7.72M in salary, but that would be almost completely negated when he hits the six homers needed to trigger the first $6M milestone bonus in his contract. Minimal savings.

The team wouldn’t be rid of Rodriguez, but they would be getting him back early enough in the season that he could have a meaningful impact. The suspension is a fixed number of games, so the Yankees would know exactly when he’d be returning. There’s no setback during a suspension. They could dig up a short-term third baseman without having to break the bank and then move forward with a regular lineup when A-Rod returns. Yeah, they wouldn’t save much money against the luxury tax threshold, but some savings are better than no savings.

Worst Case Scenario: 100-Game Suspension
Since no one thinks Horowitz will completely overturn the suspension — it’s certainly possible, but it would be a huge surprise — the worst case scenario for the Yankees would be a ban somewhere in the middle of 50 games and 162+ games. A hundred games is a nice round number and has been rumored as a possibility. A 150-game ban has been rumored as well, but for all intents and purposes that would be the same as a 162 (or more) game suspension.

If Rodriguez gets 100 games, the team would save about $15.44M in salary less the inevitable $6M homer bonus. I think we can all agree $9.5M or so is a nice chunk of change, but the team would also have to look for another permanent third baseman. Jayson Nix and Eduardo Nunez can’t hold down the hot corner for another 100 games like they did this year. We’ve seen that movie, we know how it ends. At the same time, the Yankees would also have to plan for A-Rod’s return, either at the hot corner or at DH (which figures to belong to Derek Jeter). Sixty-two games isn’t much time to make a significant impact on the team’s playoff chances either. With a 100-game ban, the team gets a nice amount of savings but the combined headache of a) having to find a third baseman, b) waiting for Alex to return, and c) not having him return into time to do anything meaningful.

* * *

The Yankees have a lot of questions to answer this offseason. More than any other offseason in recent memory, by frickin’ far. The A-Rod situation might be the most problematic because it’s completely out of their hands. They’re at the whim of the appeals process. The team doesn’t know how long they will be without their third baseman or how much money they’ll save. That’s no way to go into an offseason, but it’s the approach New York will have to take. Unless ownership decides to scrap the plan to get under the luxury tax threshold next season (lol), their offseason will be held hostage until Rodriguez’s fate is decided.

The Yankees lost to the Rays while I stood in line for a Mariano Rivera bobblehead
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  • Monty

    Jeter needs to man up and learn 3B during the offseason. If he was a real team player he would make the switch and swallow his pride.

    • I’m One

      Yeah, that fixes everything. ‘Cause it’s easier to just find an everday replacement for your starting SS. And since Jeter will be spending a fair amount of time at DH, they’ll still need to find someone to play 3B for about 100 games or so. Perfect fix!

    • EricVA

      It’s probably easier to find a 3B replacement than a SS replacement. They’ll need both but I’d rather have somebody like Reynolds play 3B than Jeter at 3B and somebody like Brendan Ryan at SS.

    • LarryM Fl

      Until the Yankees get someone who is a total package better than Jeter. He will have an argument. Signing JD Drew to play short Jeter would know that Drew is more preferable as the regular short stop than he is.

      •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

        Rest assured, the Yankees won’t be signing JD Drew to play shortstop or any other position.

  • Mark in VT

    ARod will get the 100 game suspension. Gut feeling. His lawyers will fight the 161 and win, but MLB will fight for the suspension to be more than the minimum 50.

    • EricVA

      I think it depends on how damning the evidence is against A-Rod. If he tried to pay people off to stay silent or actively recruited players to take steroids, he may not get a huge reduction in suspension. And remember, 162 is still 50 games less than the original punishment.

  • ropeadope

    Hoping for the 50 game or less scenario.* Believe Alex can still make a positive contribution going forward.

    * Would love to see the ban completely dismissed, but as Mike points out, quite unlikely.

    • I’m One

      While Alex can still provide some contribution, I doubt, even with 100+ games he adds enough to be a difference maker. (strictly opinion, but he wasn’t consistent this season and will miss the first 50 games in your scenario, so timing will still be off when he returns).

      Whatever happens (I’m in the 150+ game camp if the evidence is as damning as they’re making it out to be), I hope it happens quickly.

      • ropeadope

        I don’t think the Alex we’re seeing at present is in 100% top physical condition (or as close to 100% as could reasonably be expected). Looking for improvement in that regard by next season. And yes, he’ll have rust to shake off once (and if) he does return. Time will tell.

    • Nick

      He can make SOME contribution but he can’t make 31 million dollars worth of contribution. Hoping for him to get off scott free is crazy. That 31 M could be used on a comparable 3B, a shortstop and a pitcher instead of on one old 3B.

      • I’m One

        I don’t think anyone expects him to make a $31M (really a $25M)contribution. Will he be worth $6-7M? I think he can do that. Is that preferable to someone else? Depends who that is. It’s a tough call. Like I said above, I just hope it all happens quickly so the Yankees have the opportunity to plan.

        • Chris In Maine

          “I just hope it all happens quickly so the Yankees have the opportunity to plan.”


  • LarryM Fl

    We do not know the mountain of evidence that MLB has gathered against Arod. So it is difficult to predict the punishment. I believe he will get anywhere between 50 and 162. No matter the punishment I want the Yankees to buy his contract out especially if its a long term suspension. His legs have given out on him. His swing is all arms. The mobility at third is minimal. His base path speed is less than Miquel Cabrera. The team is always in the line of fire when Arod is on the roster. I will give Arod the fact that he still wants to play. He will prepare to play but as the body gets older the mind moves and the body stays in place. Its as some turbo engines have lag when pushed to accelerate. The better ones do not.

  • mitch

    I don’t see how 100 is the worst case scenario. If you’re okay with buying him out for 3 seasons, what’s the big deal with adding on another third of a season to the buyout?

    •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      The buyout idea has a lot to do with him missing a full season and the unlikeliness of a return after that much time out of the game, rather than the just the financial part.

  • Pat D

    Personally I still can’t wait for this circus to begin. I can’t wait to see ARod take Selig and MLB to task for all the dirty, underhanded shit they did for the purpose of nailing ARod. I can’t wait to see them depicted as the lowlifes they are, how they violated their own rules just for “the good of the game.”

    It’s going to be beautiful.

    • I’m One

      I don’t think that’s totally accurate. I believe they’ve done some underhanded things, however it’s also been stated that A-Rod outed Braun in an attempt to reduce the focus on himself. So he may be guilty of similar tactics. We’ll see. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone …

      • You Gullible Hack

        One of the underhanded things MLB has done is to state–i.e. inappropriately spread the rumor–that A-Rod outed Braun. Stop being so credulous.

    • Captain

      as much as I would love this as well, there’s virtually no chance of it happening. I don’t think any of the major writers will be taking the Arod side unless something extremely scandalous about MLB and Selig comes out. Guys like Morosi and Heyman are gonna be fighting each other to see who can write articles that bash Arod’s character more.

    • cheddar

      I agree completely. While a large part of me would love to see Alex and his salary go away for as long as possible, a larger part of me wants to see the MLB scum outed and humiliated.

  • Matt :: Sec110

    So if ARod is out all of next season…there’s away the Yanks could come in under 189 (or 175 before insurance and all that other stuff that’s part of the #) AND still field and competitive team.

    They are at about $87 million with 16 players under control. That’s giving some arb eligible guys a generous raise to $1M (Nuney, Stewart, Pineda, Nova, Nix or Ryan, Kelly). Again that’s generous, and some guys get more or less. Include Robertson/Gardner at $5, which again is lofty.

    If they bring back Cano and Kuroda at $25 a year and $15 a year respectively that’s about $101.

    THEN I think you can add McCann and Choo at $15 a piece…and that brings you to $131 with 19 players.

    So you have about $45 million to fill out your 25 man and 40 man rosters. Tanaka? A starting 3B? Another starter, bullpen help…

    All of this again, is based on ARod missing an entire year.

    • Frank

      Yanks don’t need to add more ridiculous, big named players to be competitive. See the A’s, Rays, Pirates, Red Sox. Maybe McCann but they shouldn’t sign him at all costs. This is a transition period that will take several years. Give young players from the system a shot (Warren, Nuno, Betances, Romine, Murphy, Almonte, etc.) Sign a couple of experienced role players and go from there.

    • I’m One

      You’re math is off, but your point remains ($87+25+15 = 127, not 101). If A-Rod is suspended 150 games or more, they should be in good shape, given time to plan.

      • Matt :: Sec110

        yeah, way off, I’m alternating between excel tabs here…forgot to add Cano’s $25M.

        Anways, that brings you to $156 million, rounded up, and with $20 million or so to spend.

    • Nick

      Pretty much. ARod is basically the difference between a very good $189M team and a pretty bad one. I REALLY hope they build the team with the assumption that he WILL miss the whole year instead of sitting on their hands waiting for a decision. They owe it to their fans to try to put the best product they can on the field. If ARod gets suspended and they can get in under 189, great for them.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting & Defense & Baserunning

      In terms of luxury tax payroll (without ARod):
      CC – 24.4
      Tex – 22.5
      Jeter – 15.4 (if he picks up his $9.5M option)
      Ichiro – 6.5
      Soriano – 4
      Wells – 0
      Total under contract: 72.8M
      PreArb/Arb players: estimated $20M
      Benefits/Perks/40-man costs estimated $15M
      Total before any free agents or trades: roughly $108M, leaving about $80M left.
      Cano, Kuroda, Choo, and McCann at your prices eats up all but $10M of that.
      So they’d have about $10M (maybe as much as $15M) left to ideally find a starting SS, starting 3B, maybe lefty DH/backup 1B, probably 2-3 high leverage capable bullpen arms, and a #1 starter.
      Even without ARod, the math to field a championship caliber team at $189M is still extremely daunting.

  • mt

    What a mess – I also don’t think we can say that Arod’s career is definitely over if he even misses 211 games – he will keep in shape with his crack team of therapists and trainers and will want to come back.

    Also will he go for a buyout at a % of salary when he may think he can also still get the $6 million for 660 HRs(easy) and maybe even the $6 million for 714 HRs in 2015/2016?

    • Donny

      I think you touched on a point that I have pondered: With all of the incentives that A-Rod has for milestone homeruns, there is no way he takes a buyout that doesn’t guarantee, at least, some of that bonus money. Since he still has 4 additional years left on his contract, I wouldn’t doubt that A-Rod thinks he is capable of hitting all of those milestones which could net him an additonal $30 million.

      So what is a fair buyout then? 80 million? 61 million seems way too low to me for a buyout.

      • toad

        All those milestones? I doubt it.

        660 – sure.

        714 – maybe 50-50.

        755 or more – wanna bet? Even with no suspension that’s 25 HR/yr.

  • Patrick

    I really don’t give a shit how this impacts the Yankees saving money or losing money.

    I only care how it impacts them as a team.

    I really want Arod gone. He is a distraction and is not that good anymore. Move on and get better. The quicker the better.

    • I’m One

      I get the feeling this impacts the fans more than it does the team. He goes about his business and they go about theirs.

      I’d also prefer he were gone, but we may be making more of the distraction he causes than what the team does. Not really sure, just my opinion.

      • Captain

        yea we can’t be sure since we’re not in the clubhouse everyday but I feel like the fans make out the distraction thing to be bigger than it is. We easily forget that he has been a positive impact on the younger Hispanic players during his time (Cano, Nunez, Melky).

        Also the replacement 3B for Arod next season is not guaranteed to be better than him. especially one on a short term, lower cost deal the Yankees would most likely be looking for.

        • mitch

          I agree he’s probably not a big distraction within the clubhouse, but what positive impact has he had on the hispanic players? Two of his hispanic buddies have already been busted for PEDs.

          • I’m One

            But look at the contract Melky got! :-)

          • Captain

            I’m fairly sure Cano has been on record about Arod helping him out when he first came up and showing up how hard he would have to work. but PEDs so ignore…

        • Chris In Maine

          Not an Arod Fan, but lets face it, it has been pretty quiet on the drug front since he has been back. He has done a good job on not keeping it in the headlines. Both he and Joe deserve credit for this. It really could have become much more a distraction then it ended up being

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I couldn’t agree more with the first part of this.

      I see no point in wondering “oh, what could they do with the 189 plan” or “if this happens in November, then it’s bad because of the winter meetings.” Fuck that. What happens with Alex Rodriguez should have zero impact on any other steps needed in order to improve the team for 2014.

      • I’m One

        But they will …

  • steves

    The one observation I have come to believe about Arod that might rise above everything else is that the guy loves playing and perhaps would forego Yankee dollars for the freedom to have a shot at playing somewhere else. I think if the Yanks remain steadfast about Arod never playing for them again and they are clear that they will seek to void his contract and/or drag out the process post-suspension somehow for the purpose of keeping Arod off the field (regardless of whether they have a good shot of winning that claim or not) perhaps that would lead to Arod accepting a $$$ settlement that is much more favorable to the Yanks than anyone thinks is doable at the moment (50%??).

    • I’m One

      Good point. I think it would be more like 75% or higher, but there is definitely a possibility that he accepts something less than $61M, believeing that he can latch on with another team and continue playing.

  • Vern Sneaker

    Re the Jeter at 3B comments above: Yes, why not? Several of us have raised this on RAB and have gotten summarily shot down for reasons like “It’ll never happen,” “He won’t be able to learn it,” “Ryan can’t hit” (to which I say so what, Jeter can’t play SS). I think he’ll be able to play third a lot better than he plays short, and I don’t care about his icon status and don’t see why the teams hould either.

    •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      The bigger issue is.. how would this help the team?

    • mitch

      I don’t think he’d necessarily be better at third. He’d still lack range moving to his left, and his arm probably isn’t strong enough. He’s going to be a liability at either position, and playing the field will just increase the chance he’ll get injured again. He’s a DH masked as a position player wherever he plays.

      • I’m One

        Whatever position he plays, I wouldn’t expect him to be in the field for much more than 60-70 games. Agree, he’s primarily a DH at this point (until he proves us all wrong).

  • Ace
    • Slu

      I was about to post the exact same thing. Yeah he won’t be doing any Buick commercials and they won’t sell a lot of merch, but Alex puts people in the seats and adds ratings. And that is very important to the ownership.

  • John C

    Yanks have to approach this offseason as if they will NOT have Arod for most if not all next season, and that means looking for a replacement.

  • Dan

    A-Rod doesn’t seem to be the only one at fault here. Although, as a lifelong Yankee fan , I would like to see him banned from baseball. He has tarnished the organization beyond repair. Ownership and management are collectively responsible for this debacle. The Yankee organization , as a whole, got suckered by the Boston Red Sox and other teams for entering into this horror show of a contract. Why isn’t Randy Levine or Brian Cashman being held accountable? Why isn’t ownership and management making an effort to open up their wallets and field a team that can actually compete? Does the possibility exist that the Steinbrenner babies are attempting to devalue the worth of the organization in order to sell it? Maybe the should .

    • Nick

      Why would someone try to devalue something they are trying to sell?

      Look at it this way:

      You buy a brand new car. 3 years later you decide to sell so you can trade up to a newer model. Do you take your key and carve your initials into the side of the car before you sell it?

  • Darren

    So let me get this straight. Everyone wants ARod gone, but if he’s suspended for 50 games, “at least he’ll be back early enough to have a positive impact on the season”?! Lulz.

    This illustrates the problem. There’s no one better than ARod that’s out there. Even if he retired tomorrow, eliminating the complications and $25mm, who takes his place that is likely to be more productive?

    Please tell me, I haven’t seen one good suggestion yet. You really want a repeat of this year?

    If you stopped being so emotional, and stopped buying Selig’s line of absolute bullshit, you’d be praying that the entire suspension is overturned.

    • I’m One

      Kinda of like the playoff situation a few days ago. The reality of this situation is that A-Rod will serve some type of suspension (at least it seems to be about a 99% likelyhood). However, there don’t appear to be any better options than him, so we should hope it goes away.

      Actually, it’s not fully a choice of A-Rod or an A-Rod replacement. It’s A-Rod or possibly up to $25M to spend on players to replace him and fill in at other positions of need. They might be able to get more production if they use the money wisely should A-Rod get suspended for an extended period of time. Then again, they could make poor decisions and get little out of the money. I’d take the chance they’ll spend it wisely, given the choice.

      • Darren

        Thanks, you make a good point, echoed by JGYank below, that the $25mm saved would not necesarily be used to get a better third baseman, but could be used to shore up other areas of the team. I hadn’t really thought of it that way, so I appreciate the input.

        I’m admitting I was wrong, alert the authorities! :)

    • JGYank

      The money we get back would allow us to improve the team at multiple positions and whether the 3b replacement was good or not we wouldn’t have to deal with an aging player who can’t move and is usually injured anyway. Plus no circus.

      • Kosmo

        OK so you get Arod out of the way for nearly a season then what ? NY will still have him on their hands once again in 2015 and beyond.

        • I’m One

          I guess most of us believe (or are hoping) that the Yankees are willing to spend the $61M (or whatever it takes) to cut ties with him. That may be a bad assumption. We’ll see.

  • Kosmo

    I believe as others have mentioned Arod will serve a 100 game suspension. I thought in August it would be a 200+ game suspension but now that figure seems unlikely.

    Yes it´s true if NY re-signs Cano and Arod serves a 100 game suspension it would give NY about 60 or so million to gamble with for 2014 BUT in 2015 NY will still have Arod on their hands, he´ll be 39 and still owed 60m spread over the last 3 years remaining. So if I´m not mistaken the budget for next year could allow for the signing of a few desirable FA BUT the budget will inflate once again in 2015 given that Arod will be there to collect on his 2015 salary.

  • JGYank

    Best case retires. Worst case nothing.

  • Kosmo

    At this point in time I´m not holding my breath thinking that Jeter can be a productive day in day out position player let alone learn to play 3B for the 1 year left on his contract. For Jeter that would be an absolute waste of time. Think for a moment- here´s a guy coming back from a career threatening injury wanting to get back to playing shape this offseason and then asked to switch positions for the good of the team ? Surely you must be joking. In addition he´ll be 40 yrs old in 2014.

  • Adam

    Why does everyone still have this love and need to give $15 mil to Kuroda? Have you seen what he’s done in the 2H? Plus another year older?

    Cmon, time to be realistic.

    • mitch

      The 15mil figure is assuming they’d extend the QO. Despite the rough end, i still think it’s a move worth making. If they could figure out a way to give him an extra day of rest or skip a start here or there, I think he’d be able to give them 160 quality innings. That’s worth 15mil IMO.

  • Don

    Standing in a line of any length for a bobble head is ridiculous. No one to blame but yourself, and a lot of blame at that.

  • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

    It’s a shame he can’t hit the bonus this week…

  • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

    Hey stupid question…is Tex still a Yankee? Is he playing first next year or can we move one of these other old kinda slow but still hits infielders over there?

  • Paco Dooley

    To me, the least likely scenario is the arbitrator holding up the full 211 game ban since it is a totally arbitrary number calculated entirely based on the timing of the announcement.

    The other cases all seem to depend largely on the evidence made that he deserves each level of punishment, and we don’t know what the evidence is. Personally, I think he will get 150 games (I am assuming they will make a multiple infraction case that is compelling).

    It’s really sad that teams have no way to void contracts signed under false pretences. You can argue that they should have known he was using PEDs, but assuming they did not, his performance was based on cheating and should therefore mean the contract signed in response is voidable.

  • Bob

    For all that want ARod gone, all of the other third basemen this year had about half a dozen homers combined. ARod was productive before his pulled muscles made him the DH.

    Has anyone heard anything on Tex? CC ‘s era wasn’t much better than Hughes. Losing Mo really hurts the pen because nobody knows if Robertson is up to it. Andy is gone and maybe Kuruda too. the Yanks may need 3 starters and that is assuming CC can drop his era closer to 4 than 5 and Nova can be consistent for a full year. Granderson may be gone and Ichiro is a major disappointment. A 260 average, no power no walks and diminishing defense is not gonna cut it. And the 800 pound gorilla in the room is what is it going to take to get Cano. More than 6 years is going to be a tough sell to the Yanks. The Yanks have more holes than a golf course. I think they are going to let this year be a lost year, get under the cap and retool for 2015.