Update: Yankees haven’t given A-Rod permission to skip Astros series

3:58pm: Both Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi have shot down the report. A-Rod does not have permission to skip the Houston trip and will apparently be with the team for the final series of the year this weekend.

2:52pm: Via NYDN: The Yankees have given Alex Rodriguez permission to skip this weekend’s series with the Astros in Houston so he and his legal team can prepare for his upcoming appeals hearing. The hearing is scheduled to start on Monday and is expected to last several sessions. A ruling may not come down until November or December. The Yankees were eliminated from postseason contention last night, so these last four games don’t mean anything. Tonight will be A-Rod’s final game of the year and, possibly, his career.

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

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

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.

Marcus: A-Rod’s appeal will begin on September 30th

Via Stephen Marcus: Alex Rodriguez‘s appeal will begin on September 30th, the day after the end of the regular season. Andrew Marchand says the hearing will be delayed if the Yankees manage to qualify for the postseason. MLB officials, A-Rod‘s legal team, and arbitrator Frederic Horowitz had a preliminary meeting last week.

Rodriguez, 38, was suspended a record 211 games for ties to Biogenesis last month. He was the only one of the 13 players to appeal their ban, but he was also the only one to receive more than the typical 50-game suspension for first-time offenders. The hearing is expected to take several days and a ruling is not expected until November or December. A-Rod is allowed to play during the appeal and came into Sunday’s game hitting .275/.368/.441 (124 wRC+) with four homers in 28 games since coming off the DL.

Marcus: Preliminary stages of A-Rod’s appeal will begin this week

Via Steven Marcus: The preliminary stages of Alex Rodriguez‘s appeal will begin this week. MLB officials, A-Rod‘s legal team, and arbitrator Frederic Horowitz will meet Wednesday to discuss the evidence and possibly even set a date for the hearing. The case isn’t expected to be heard until sometime in November or December.

Rodriguez, 38, was suspended a record 211 games for his ties to Biogenesis earlier this month. He was the only one of the 14 suspended players to appeal the ban. A-Rod is allowed to play during the appeal (obviously) and he came into Sunday’s game hitting .280/.359/.451 (125 wRC+) with four homers and three steals in 92 plate appearances. He is expected to appear in front of the arbitrator at some point during the actual hearing. Horowitz can overturn, uphold, or reduce the suspension.

Nightengale: MLB asks permission to reveal all info on A-Rod

Via Bob Nightengale: MLB has formally requested permission from Alex Rodriguez‘s camp to publicly release all of their evidence against him. “While we believe that your public comments are already in breach of the confidentiality provisions of [the Joint Drug Agreement], we will agree to waive those provisions … with respect to Rodriguez’s entire history under the Program, including, but not limited to, his testing history, test results, violations of the Program, and all information and evidence,” said MLB VP Rob Manfred in a letter to A-Rod‘s lawyer.

This is really getting to be silly. MLB has been leaking information for weeks — like clockwork, really, every day during the 5-6pm ET hour something new comes out — but now they’re asking permission? A-Rod’s camp has already said no (as they should have), but now the leaks will continue anyway. Maybe they won’t leak the actual evidence, but there will still be stories about this and that intending to scare Rodriguez. The league has definitely succeeded at making this whole situation messier than it needs to be with this mudslinging. Crazy idea: Respect due process and everyone shut up until the appeal hearing.

NYT: A-Rod’s lawyer accuses Yankees of hiding hip MRI results

Via Steve Eder: Joseph Tacopina, a member of Alex Rodriguez‘s legal team, accused the Yankees of deliberately endangering his health in an effort to get him out of baseball. “They rolled him out there like an invalid and made him look like he was finished as a ballplayer … They did things and acted in a way that is downright terrifying,” said the lawyer, who claims the team hid MRI results that showed the torn hip labrum from A-Rod last fall and continued to play him in the postseason.

Tacopina also says team president Randy Levine told Dr. Brian Kelly, who examined Alex after the season and eventually diagnosed the labrum tear, that “I don’t ever want to see [A-Rod] on the field again” and clarified “it wasn’t a joke.” Levine, obviously, denied the claims and says the team is willing to release the medical records if given the thumbs up by the necessary parties. Tacopina claims they have copies of “very damaging” email exchanges between A-Rod and Levine that prove otherwise.

So, someone is lying here. Either A-Rod’s camp is lying about what the doctor said or Levine is lying about what he told the doctor. I suppose they could both be correct and Kelly made the whole thing up, but I doubt it. Also, saying they hid the MRI results and continued to play an injured player is a very serious accusation. Like, super duper serious. I can’t wait for the appeal hearing. This is going to be a blast.

Report alleges A-Rod’s people leaked un-redacted Biogenesis documents

If ballplayers had a problem with Alex Rodriguez following the Biogenesis revelations, they’re going to downright hate the man if the latest report proves true. According to a 60 Minutes report, it was A-Rod‘s camp that provided un-redacted versions of the Biogenesis documents to Yahoo! Sports last February. This is quite a big deal, considering the un-redacted version of the documents added many names to the list of known Biogenesis clients.

If you search the original Miami New Times article, you will see no mention of Ryan Braun, among others (including Francisco Cervelli). It was only when the Yahoo! Sports report ran, almost a week later, that we saw Braun and others appear. Nearly all of the players on that un-redacted list have since been suspended, with the exceptions of Gio Gonzalez and Danny Valencia, who were cleared, and Melky Cabrera, Yasmani Grandal, and Bartolo Colon, who had previously served suspensions.

Given the deluge of leaks from MLB leading up to the Biogenesis suspensions, and their continuing case against A-Rod, it’s fair to assume that this leak also came from them. MLB has accused Rodriguez of attempting to obstruct their investigation into the players involved with Biogenesis, yet this seems to be the exact opposite. Whoever leaked the un-redacted documents did MLB a favor, since it exposed more players. Yet that might not be the biggest implication of this matter.

Craig Calcaterra of HardballTalk notes that if A-Rod did leak these documents, he might have violated the confidentiality clause in the CBA.

Like any report from anonymous sources (especially when signs point to MLB as the source), we shouldn’t take it as fact. Like any report involving Alex Rodriguez, we will anyway. I do have to say, if this does prove true it feels quite a bit worse than using PEDs.