Davidoff: MLBPA requests “hold” to help settle A-Rod’s home run milestone bonus dispute

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

According to Ken Davidoff, the MLB Players’ Association has formally requested a “hold” from MLB in hopes of settling the dispute over Alex Rodriguez‘s 660th home run milestone bonus. The MLBPA is acting on A-Rod‘s behalf. The Yankees owe Alex a $6M bonus for the homer but have opted not to pay because they claim his performance-enhancing drug history has rendered the milestone unmarketable.

Monday was a soft deadline for A-Rod and/or the MLBPA to file a grievance on the matter — the Collective Bargaining Agreement gives players 45 days to file an appeal and Monday marked 45 days since the 660th homer. A-Rod has been deferring everything to the MLBPA thus far. They’re handling the dispute. Understandably, the union doesn’t want set a precedent by allowing a team to simply refuse to pay a contract bonus.

“At this point in time, the focus right now (is) on the field,” said MLBPA chief Tony Clark to Davidoff. “I know there are other things that are out there, but the focus right now, being in the field, is what’s been beneficial to everyone. For now, we’re going to make sure that remains the focus, regardless of anything or any dialogue that happens in conjunction.”

Davidoff says the Yankees at one point reached out to Rodriguez and presented the idea of settling the dispute with a donation to charity, and while A-Rod’s camp has not yet agreed to that, it isn’t off the table either. (I’m no accountant but I imagine there is some sort of tax implication that makes the charitable donation solution less of a no-brainer than it appears to be.) For what it’s worth, Davidoff says everyone involved has “maintained steady, mostly peaceful discussion in the interest of common ground.”

Anyway, Monday had the potential to be an ugly day had the MLBPA gone ahead and officially filed the grievance on A-Rod’s behalf. Instead, the two sides are working amicably to find a solution and avoid a grievance, which no one wants. I find it hard to believe the argument that the 660th homer was unmarketable would hold up in a hearing, but what do I know. I’m no lawyer. At least this controversy is flying under the radar relatively quietly.

Report: A-Rod admitted PED use to DEA

According to Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald, Alex Rodriguez admitted to purchasing and using performance-enhancing drugs from Biogenesis in a January meeting with federal agents and prosecutors in exchange for immunity. He told them he paid Anthony Bosch approximately $12,000 per month for the drugs. A-Rod publicly maintained he did not use PEDs even after the meeting, though we all knew that was a lie. Weaver’s article is Alex’s confession. Really great piece of reporting. Anyway, it’s November 5th and I already have A-Rod fatigue. Sigh.

Update: MLB, MLBPA announce new drug agreement

Friday: MLB and MLBPA have announced the new agreement, effective immediately. First and second time offenders will be suspended 80 and 162 games, respectively. The third offense gets a lifetime ban. There is a shorter suspension for inadvertent use, which much be proved through arbitration. Players who are suspended are also ineligible for the postseason. I don’t like that last part, the player’s punishment should not vary by the quality of his team. The testing programs have been ramped up as well.

Wednesday: Via the AP: MLB and the players’ union are working on a new drug agreement that would increase penalties for performance-enhancing drugs. They hope to have the deal in place by Sunday, before the season starts. “It will be a significant deterrent because players will know they’re not going to just easily walk back into a lineup,” said Travis Tygart, CEO if the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. “It probably is the best policy in professional sports.”

Under the new plan, first and second time offenses would result in 100 and 162-game suspensions, respectively. Ken Rosenthal says the first ban would be 80 games, so there’s some conflicting information right now. There would also be a new 25-game suspension for inadvertent use. I’m interested to see exactly how that will work. The MLBPA has always been pro-PED testing and this wouldn’t be the first time they open up the Collective Bargaining Agreement and Joint Drug Agreement mid-term to make changes. I’m glad they’re working on a way to stiffen penalties while somewhat protecting the players who were not using intentionally. Mistakes do happen.

Update: MLB, MLBPA ask judge to throw out A-Rod’s lawsuit

Feb. 4th: As expected, the MLBPA has asked for the case to be tossed out as well, reports Michael O’Keeffe. “Mr. Rodriguez does not and cannot plausibly allege that [the union’s] advice was unreasonable, given in bad faith or that it undermined the MLBPA’s prosecution of the grievance,” said a letter the union sent to Ramos. A hearing is scheduled for February 14th.

Jan. 29th: Via the AP: Howard Ganz, one of MLB’s lawyers, sent a letter to U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos saying Alex Rodriguez‘s lawsuit should be tossed out because it does not come “remotely close” to what is needed to overturn an arbitration ruling. “A court must confirm an award even when the arbitrator has offered only a barely colorable justification for the outcome reached, and even if the court considers the arbitrator’s interpretation of the contract to be plainly wrong,” said the letter, whatever that means.

A-Rod and his legal team filed the lawsuit against MLB and the players’ union a few weeks ago, after his record 162-game suspension was upheld by arbitrator Frederic Horowitz. Ganz also said the MLBPA plans to seek dismissal of the suit as well. The suit is seeking an injuction that would overturn the suspension and allow Rodriguez to not only play this year, but also receive his massive $25M salary. From what I understand, the chances of a federal court re-opening the case and actually overturning the suspension are very small, so this is basically a Hail Mary.

Yahoo: Players asked to kick A-Rod out of MLBPA

Via Jeff Passan & Tim Brown: Members of the players’ association sought to kick Alex Rodriguez out of the union, but were told it is not legally possible. Players felt betrayed after A-Rod sued the union as part of the suit he filed in an effort to get an injunction against his record 162-game suspension.

“It’s beyond disappointment,” said one unnamed player. “What brought it beyond disappointment was the fact he’s suing the union. Guys understand people make bad decisions, they lie when they’re embarrassed or trying to avoid punishment. Those are human qualities. Guys understand. But what made guys incensed is he would bring a suit against the union.”

A-Rod’s suit says the union and late chief Michael Weiner “completely abdicated its responsibility” to defend him during the appeals process. From what I understand he had to sue both MLB and MLBPA to have a chance in a federal case; leaving the union out of the suit wouldn’t have worked. Ironically, trying to kick A-Rod out of the union may strengthen his case.

A-Rod speaks for first time since suspension, says it “could be a big favor” from MLB

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

For the first time since his record 162-game suspension was handed down, Alex Rodriguez spoke publicly on Wednesday. He spoke with the media in Spanish at the opening of his Alex Rodriguez Energy Fitness Center in Mexico City and sounded like someone who is starting to accept the reality of his situation. Here’s are the quotes, courtesy of Josh Egerman:

“I think that the year 2014 could be a big favor that [Major League Baseball has] done for me because I’ve been playing for 20 years without a timeout,” he said. “I think 2014 is a good year to rest mentally and physically and prepare for the future and begin a new chapter in my life.”

“I have three years left on my contract starting in 2015 and I hope to play very well and finish my career in New York,” he said

“[To] tell the truth, it’s a very sad situation and we hope to get this out of every newspaper and start concentrating on all the good things that MLB is doing and the great things that young ballplayers are doing and move forward,” he said.

A-Rod did not mention performance-enhancing drugs at all, but he did say he has received support “not just from my Yankees teammates, but also players from other teams, retired players, Hall of Fame players and lots of good people, owners of other teams.”

Does this mean A-Rod and his legal team will drop their various lawsuits? I don’t know. I can’t imagine it helps his case that he came out and said he’s looking forward to taking a year off. I also wonder if he simply got some bad advice from his lawyers. Maybe he wasn’t fully behind pushing the case to federal court but took the word of the people he hired. Either way, it sounds like Alex is starting to understand how unlikely getting the suspension overturned is.

Update: Through his spokesman, A-Rod said he will continue to fight the suspension in federal court. “This process has been taxing both mentally and physically throughout the past eight months,” said Ron Berkowitz said in a statement. “Alex will abide by the rulings of the federal judge — whatever he decides — and get ready for 2015 should the judge rule against him. He will continue to move forward with his complaint which will help all players against this unfair system.”

Hal discusses A-Rod for first time since suspension

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

It has been four pretty chaotic days since Alex Rodriguez‘s record 162-game suspension was announced. Alex is suing pretty much everyone and doing his best to burn every last bridge. It’s exhausting to follow, really.

Aside from a generic statement issued following the announcement of the suspension, the Yankees have not publicly discussed the matter. At least not until Wednesday. At the quarterly owners’ meetings in Arizona, Hal Steinbrenner commented on A-Rod and his status with the team following the suspension. As you might expect, he didn’t say anything too juicy. From Ken Davidoff:

“He’s a great player,” Steinbrenner said in the Yankees’ managing general partner’s first public comments since independent arbitrator Fredric Horowitz reduced Rodriguez’s suspension from 211 games to 162 games. “I have not thought about 2015, nor am I going to right now. My focus has to be right now. But when he’s on and when he’s healthy, he’s obviously an asset. We’ll see what happens.”

“Those of you that know me, I’m pretty objective in my thinking. This is business. I’m just focusing on the team, a player. Is the player an asset to the club or not? That’s about as far as I look. I don’t get personal … When Alex Rodriguez is healthy and himself, I think most objective baseball people would say he could be an asset to a club.”

Hal didn’t exactly say they would welcome A-Rod back following the suspension but he didn’t completely take it off the table either. I don’t expect them to bring Rodriguez back in 2015 — I do think they’ll release him at some point, but what do I know — but there’s no reason for Steinbrenner to come out and announce their plans now. Especially not with lawsuits pending and all that. There’s nothing to gain.

One thing Hal did acknowledge was talking to MLB about a way to keep A-Rod away from the team during the Spring Training, or at least the intent to the talk to MLB. “We haven’t even talked about it,” he said. “Cross that bridge when we come to it kind of thing. We’re going to reach out to [Major League Baseball], get their advice obviously, but haven’t even addressed it.”

The whole Spring Training thing is fascinating to me. I want to see how they’ll keep him away or how the team will treat him during camp if there’s no way to stop him from showing up in Tampa. Either way, I don’t think it’ll be easy or pretty. None of this has been.