Archive for Alex Rodriguez
Via Steven Marcus: Alex Rodriguez tested negative for performance-enhancing drugs in a recent MLB-mandated screening. MLB tested Gio Gonzalez — both blood and urine — two days after he was connected to the South Florida clinic Biogenesis, and I assume A-Rod went through the same thing. They probably ordered everyone in the report to be tested as soon as possible. MLB is still investigating Biogenesis, Anthony Bosch, the players, all of that stuff.
The Yankees have placed Alex Rodriguez on the 60-day DL to clear room on the 40-man roster for the recently-acquired Shawn Kelley, the team announced. It’s just a procedural move, A-Rod isn’t expected to return form his left hip surgery until after the All-Star break.
Joe Girardi just told reporters that Alex Rodriguez will not be in camp with the Yankees this spring. He just got off crutches and will continue rehabbing from his left hip surgery in New York. The skipper did not say whether plans could change later in camp. “This club is used to having what people might call distractions,” said Girardi. “There really isn’t a lot to talk about … My concern is to get him healthy.”
It does seem pretty obvious that keeping A-Rod in New York is as much about avoiding a potential distraction following the latest round of performance-enhancing drug allegations as it is continuing his rehab. The hip injury gives them an easy cover. Either way, no A-Rod in camp means that much time will be spent discussing baseball. Hooray for that.
Last Friday, Buster Olney (Insider req’d) put together a post listing eight things that must go right for the Yankees in 2013. Most of them are obvious, like CC Sabathia having a strong season and Mariano Rivera returning to form, but I figured this was a good chance to piggyback on his idea and list some things I believe must go right for the club this year. I’m talking about big picture stuff, not just things that will help them contend in 2013.
Olney listed eight items, but I’m only going six deep. These aren’t listed in order of importance or anything like that, just in the order they came to me. They’re all important, but some are obviously more important than others.
The Yankees have three starting pitchers scheduled to become free agents after the season — Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, and Phil Hughes — and the plan to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold in 2014 means they won’t be able to go crazy on the free agent market next winter. Getting something out of Michael Pineda in the second half would obviously be helpful, but it’ll be just as important for either Nova or Phelps to step forward and solidify themselves as long-term starters. Finding a cheap starter in the organization is a necessity to remain competitive once payroll is slashed.
2. Austin Romine must stay healthy.
Romine is likely to open the season in Triple-A while Chris Stewart and Frankie Cervelli make us want to claw our eyes out at the big league level, which is the best thing for his development. The 24-year-old has caught just 103 total games over the last two years due to persistent back problems, so he’s lost a lot of development time at a crucial age. Gary Sanchez is still several years away, so Romine is the organization’s best hope for a productive catcher in the near future. He needs to actually stay healthy for that to happen, so a full season in 2013 is imperative for his long-term future.
Rivera is a baseball playing robot and I expect him to have little trouble being productive following knee surgery. David Robertson is as good a setup man as you’ll find in the game, and the left-handed duo of Boone Logan and Clay Rapada is one of the better LOOGY tandems in baseball. The middle innings — fifth, sixth, and seventh, basically — fall on the shoulders of two pitchers who have combined to throw 50.1 innings over the last two seasons.
Joba, 27, struggled when he came off the DL at the trade deadline but finished the season very well, allowing just one earned run and one walk against 17 strikeouts in his final 13 innings of the season. It’s not a guarantee he’ll pitch well in 2013 of course, but it is encouraging. Aardsma made one late-season appearance and will be coming off two lost years due to elbow and hip surgery. The Yankees can get by if one of these two flames out and is unable to find his form from a few years ago, but getting nothing from both would create some major bullpen headaches.
4. Ichiro Suzuki must produce on an extreme, either good or bad.
The Yankees handed out just one multi-year contract this offseason, deciding the 39-year-old Ichiro was worthy of that kind of commitment. It’s my belief the deal was motivated by off-field factors — merchandise and ticket sales, advertising opportunities, increased popularity in Japan, etc. — and not so much his expected on-field performance. The late-season hot streak was nice and all, but Ichiro has managed just a .277/.308/.361 batting line in his last 1,384 plate appearances. Consider me skeptical.
So, what the club needs most from Suzuki next year is an extreme performance. He either needs to hit the cover off the ball like he did down the stretch and make me look like an idiot, or he needs to play so poorly the club will have no choice but to replace him. Splitting the middle and treading water won’t help, it just means he’ll remain in the lineup and be a question mark heading into 2014. Ichiro needs to erase doubt this summer, either by hitting so well they have to keep him or by hitting so poorly they have to dump him.
Every team needs their top prospects to stay healthy for obvious reasons, and the Yankees have three of their best minor leaguers coming off major injuries. Williams (shoulder) missed the second half following surgery while Campos (elbow) barely pitched in 2012. Heathcott (shoulder) missed the first half following his second surgery in as many offseasons and has yet to play more than 76 games in a single season. All three are among the team’s very best prospects and if the Yankees are serious about sticking to a budget, they’re going to need cheap production. That isn’t limited to plugging these guys into the roster down the line either, they need to stay healthy to boost potential trade value as well.
6. Alex Rodriguez must hit at least 13 homers.
Despite all the recent PED stuff, I’m working under the assumption A-Rod will rejoin the team around the All-Star break because that’s what the doctors (and the Yankees!) said following his latest hip surgery. If they’re able to void or otherwise shed his contract, great. But I’ll believe it when I see it.
Anyway, A-Rod is currently sitting on 647 career homers and is 13 away from triggering the first of five $6M homerun milestones in his contract. Triggering that bonus in 2013 — the next homer bonus would then be 54 homers away, a total even in-his-prime Alex would have trouble reaching in one year — gives the team another $6M to spend under the luxury tax threshold in 2014. It doesn’t sound like much, but $6M does go a long way. It’s enough to add an $18M player at the trade deadline. I don’t care anything about this latest PED stuff, I care about A-Rod reaching this first homer bonus this summer to give the team more flexibility next year.
Only three questions this week, but they’re good ones. Use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us anything throughout the week, mailbag questions or otherwise.
Many people asked: What happens with regards to the luxury tax if Alex Rodriguez retires or his contract is voided or he agrees to a buyout?
The answer to all three of those situations is: I have no idea. I imagine the Yankees would be off the hook completely if he voluntarily retired (which he would never do) or they were able to void the contract (which is extremely unlikely). Even if doctors said A-Rod was physically unable to play, he still wouldn’t retire. He’d just force the team to stick him on the 60-day DL every year and keep collecting his money, like Albert Belle did with the Orioles back in the day. That’s what I would do. The Yankees would collect insurance money in that case, but I don’t think it would prevent his salary from counting against the luxury tax. I don’t know that for sure though.
Until we have definitive word otherwise, I assume Alex and his entire $27.5M luxury tax hit will be on the books for the next five years. If they manage to work something out that changes his luxury tax hit, great. I’m not counting on it.
Anonymous asks: Hypothetical situation: if the Yankees had Jurickson Profar and you were the GM, would you hold him back in the minors, move Derek Jeter to a new position (or DH), or maybe something else entirely? This is obviously not a problem for the Yankees now, but it’s fun to play what-if.
Profar, 20 next month, is the best prospect in all of baseball. He hit .281/.368/.452 (127 wRC+) with 14 homers and 16 steals in 126 Double-A games last year, then made his big league debut in September. He’s truly elite, a great-defending shortstop who hits for average and power and can run. Profar is Hanley Ramirez — the good version with the Marlins from back in the day — with better defense.
If he was Yankees property and I was calling the shots, I’m pretty sure I would send Profar to Triple-A to begin 2013. It would be incredibly tempting to run him out there everyday if Jeter’s ankle kept him on the shelf early in the season, however. Profar would be the obvious long-term solution at shortstop once the Cap’n retires, and I would try to push Jeter to third base or DH in 2014 (assuming he exercises his player option) to make it happen.
Daniel asks: Any chance of acquiring J.J. Hardy from Baltimore? I can see them sticking with him this year, but would they really block Machado two straight years? I don’t think so and Hardy supposedly only plays shortstop.
Hardy, 30, hit .238/.282/.389 (78 wRC+) last season after putting together a .269/.310/.491 (113 wRC+) line with 30 homers a year ago. Given the dearth of quality shortstops, I totally would have traded Hardy this winter and handed Machado the shortstop job if I was the Orioles. Instead, Machado will play third base in 2013.
Baltimore owes Hardy $7M in both 2013 and 2014, so he’s very reasonably priced given his great defense and power production. He’d be a great fit for the Yankees if the ankle forces Jeter off shortstop full-time, but I have a very hard time seeing the Bombers and Orioles getting together for a trade. Especially if the O’s prove last year was no fluke and remain competitive. Hardy is too expensive to be a utility man and too good defensively to DH, but he’d be a great Jeter replacement.
I feel like this poll was inevitable. There has been so much talk — speculation more than anything — about the possibility of the Yankees voiding Alex Rodriguez‘s contract in the wake of the latest PED scandal that I want to see how many people actually believe it will happen.
Yesterday I wrote about the process the Yankees will have to wade through to make voiding A-Rod‘s deal possible, which begins with waiting for MLB to finish their investigation. That is going to take a while. Jeff Passan reported last night that the league will soon interview the players mentioned in the report and has a contingent traveling to Florida today to speak to the people at the Miami New Times, which broke the story. Those are steps one and two of many.
Regardless of whether you think it will actually happen — or if the Yankees will even seriously attempt it — voiding A-Rod’s contract will be extremely difficult. Remember, there was talk about voiding Jason Giambi‘s contract following his PED revelations a few years ago, and that proved to be so difficult the team didn’t even take a real shot at it. Granted, Giambi was owned much less at the time than A-Rod is now, which changes things.
No matter what happens, A-Rod will not return to the team for quite some time thanks to his latest hip surgery. There’s a non-zero chance he will never play for the Yankees again, either because the injury is so debilitating that he can’t play anymore (highly unlikely given the way the team and doctor spoke following the procedure) or because the contract is voided.
I suppose there’s something slightly poetic about discussing the possibility of the Yankees voiding Alex Rodriguez‘s contract. After all, it was a voided contract that helped bring Alex to the Bronx in the first place. Aaron Boone blew out his knee playing basketball — something that is strictly prohibited in standard MLB contracts — in January 2004, an injury that would cause him to miss the entire season. The Yankees voided his one-year contract and a few weeks later, A-Rod was in pinstripes.
Following yesterday’s South Florida-based performance-enchancing drug revelations, reports surfaced that the Yankees are “looking at about 20 different things” in hopes of finding a way out of five years and $114M left on A-Rod’s contract. They’re looking to see if he breached his contract by getting medical attention without the team’s permission, if he broke the law by purchasing controlled substances, all sorts of stuff. The team is desperate to get out of the noose they tied around their own necks, so of course they’re doing to try to weasel their way out of it.
Fans, of course, are out for blood. A-Rod has disgraced the pinstripes and he must pay! Void the contract without cause and deal with the lawsuits afterwards! Release him and eat the money! Pressure him into retiring! Do whatever it takes to get rid of him! Darren Rovell and Ken Rosenthal even had the genius idea of committing insurance fraud, which might possibly be more stupid than anything irrationally said by any Yankees fan. That’s really saying something.
In reality, this is what will happen: nothing. At least not immediately. There is no hard evidence A-Rod purchased, used, possessed, anythinged a banned substance from 2009-2012. There’s a report from a non-major, tabloid newspaper on par with amNY. That’s all. Nothing can happen until Major League Baseball completes its investigation and finds actual evidence, evidence that is solid enough to act on. That could take a few days, a week, a month, a year … who the hell knows. There’s also the possibility the league will find nothing. It’s not until the investigation is complete that this whole process can go forward.
If MLB manages to find some real evidence, then the Yankees would have to figure out how to actually use it. The Joint Drug Agreement — a collectively bargained document that both Yankees ownership and A-Rod (via the players’ union) agreed to — says punishment is in the hands of the commissioner’s office and no one else. They might suspend him and he would probably be allowed to serve it while on the DL for his hip injury. There’s plenty of precedent for that. A-Rod would face the same penalties as Nelson Cruz and Melky Cabrera. He’s not special because he’s a Yankee and you don’t like him.
Unless there is language in A-Rod’s contract pertaining specifically to PED stuff — we have zero reason to believe there is — it’s going to be extremely difficult for the Yankees to shed themselves of that $114M. Maybe they could talk A-Rod into a Jason Bay-esque buyout just to get rid of him, but that won’t improve their financial situation. Alex has no reason to take any kind of discount from the team. Zero. Having banked over $300M in his career to date is irrelevant. The club is obligated to pay him that money and he won’t walk away from nine figures in an effort to repair an image that is already beyond repair.
Now, with all that said, of course the Yankees should try to find something that would allow them to cut ties with A-Rod. They should have been doing that long before yesterday’s reports were even published. We’ve known the contract was an albatross for years now, we didn’t need anything that happened yesterday to remind us. Yesterday’s report just made it seem slightly more possible, which might not even be the case. The team’s lawyers should be combing through every standard and silly little clause in that contract to find what amounts to a loophole.
If the Yankees do somehow defy the odds and manage to void even a portion of A-Rod’s contract down the line, it will be because they fought the union tooth and nail through ugly legal proceedings and won. Not because A-Rod will retire out of the kindness of his heart and certainly not because the union will throw one of its members under the bus. In that respect, trying to void the contract will be much more painful than just sitting around and waiting for the deal to expire in five years.
The court of public opinion needs no hard evidence. Yesterday’s report was more than enough to forever tarnish whatever was left of A-Rod’s legacy, regardless of its accuracy. Real life requires hard evidence though, especially when someone wants to void a nine-figure contract. We’re not even one step away from that potentially happening, we’re about thirty steps away.
A report in The Miami New Times concerning Anthony Bosch — who is under investigation by MLB and the DEA — says Alex Rodriguez is among the players who received performance-enhancing drugs from his South Florida clinic. According to the clinic’s records, A-Rod received HGH and other substances from Bosch from at least 2009 through last season. Here’s the A-Rod-related text so you don’t have to read the entire article…
There, at number seven on the list, is Alex Rodriguez. He paid $3,500, Bosch notes. Below that, he writes, “1.5/1.5 HGH (sports perf.) creams test., glut., MIC, supplement, sports perf. Diet.” HGH, of course, is banned in baseball, as are testosterone creams.
That’s not the only damning evidence against A-Rod, though. Another document from the files, a loose sheet with a header from the 19th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging and Aesthetic Medicine, lays out a full regimen under the name Cacique: “Test. cream… troches prior to workout… and GHRP… IGF-1… pink cream.”
There’s more evidence. On a 2009 client list, near A-Rod’s name, is that of Yuri Sucart, who paid Bosch $500 for a weeklong supply of HGH. Sucart is famous to anyone who has followed baseball’s steroid scandal. Soon after A-Rod’s admission, the slugger admitted that Sucart — his cousin and close friend — was the mule who provided the superstar his drugs. In 2009, the same year this notebook was written, Sucart (who lives in South Miami and didn’t respond to a message left at his home) was banned from all Yankees facilities.
The mentions of Rodriguez begin in 2009 and continue all the way through last season. Take a page in another notebook, which is labeled “2012″ and looks to have been written last spring. Under the heading “A-Rod/Cacique,” Bosch writes, “He is paid through April 30th. He will owe May 1 $4,000… I need to see him between April 13-19, deliver troches, pink cream, and… May meds. Has three weeks of Sub-Q (as of April).”
Melky Cabrera, Gio Gonzalez, and Nelson Cruz are among the other players named, and all have South Florida ties. MLB will implement in-season HGH testing this year and although I stopped caring about the PED stuff a long time ago, this is obviously going to be a huge, huge story. I’m sure we’re going to hear an awful lot more about this. This is only the start.
Update: Ken Davidoff says the Yankees are going to stay out of the way and let MLB do its thing. The Rangers issued a statement saying they will do the same with Nelson Cruz. Standard protocol.
Update Part Deux: It’s worth noting that players can be suspended for “possession” of PEDs according to the Joint Drug Agreement. There does not have to be a failed test. There’s even a whole section on how to appeal a suspension without a failed test. Several players, including Edinson Volquez, were allowed to serve PED-related suspensions while on the DL.
MLB and the DEA are probing a Miami-area man named Anthony Bosch about his possible link to performance enhancing drugs, reports the Daily News. Bosch, who provides training and nutrition advice, has been connected to several Latin American players in South Florida, including Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez.
This information isn’t anything new. MLB and DEA first started probing Bosch (and his father) way back in 2009, but I guess they’re ramping things up because of all the Latin American players (Melky Cabrera, Yasmani Grandal, Bartolo Colon, etc.) who tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone in 2012. A-Rod‘s connection is pretty loose here and it looks like the Daily News just slapped his name on the report for effect. Either way, I’m sure we’ll hear more about this at some point.
During a conference call with reporters, Dr. Bryan Kelly announced that Alex Rodriguez will have surgery to repair his left hip next Wednesday. He expects A-Rod to be out until the All-Star break, but he also admitted they won’t know the extent of the cartilage damage until they actually cut him open. That could push his return date back even further.
I highly recommend Joel Sherman’s article about the procedure, in which Kelly spoke at length about the condition of A-Rod’s hip and its potential impact on his performance, as well as expectations going forward. He also explained why the injury was not diagnosed sooner. There’s an awful lot of information in there about a situation we outsiders don’t really know much about, so make sure you check it out to get a better understanding of what exactly is going on.