Arod could be wearing a suit, instead of a baseball uniform, in 2014.
Arbitrator Frederic Horowitz has decided to reduce Alex Rodriguez’ suspension to 162 games, which, make no mistake about it, is a victory for Major League Baseball. So, after months of drama more suitable to daytime TV, it’s finally case closed! Or, is it? As much as MLB and its weary fans would like to put the Arod/Biogensis situation behind it, today’s arbitration ruling raises just as many questions as were answered, some of which are outlined below.
1) Can Arod sue to have the suspension overturned?
Yes. In fact, according to a statement released by the former MVP, the wheels are already in motion for a legal challenge to the ban. However, a more relevant question is how realistic are his chances of receiving judicial relief? Craig Calcaterra does a good job explaining why Arod faces an uphill battle in having the courts overturn a collectively bargained arbitration decision, but, then again, that analysis assumes the courts will view this particular situation as typical. Considering all the nuances, as well as the various claims made by Arod that seem to fall outside the purview of the CBA, a long drawn out legal battle could be in the offing. Should that occur, it’s possible that Arod will be granted injunctive relief from his suspension. If so, Rodriguez just might be the Yankees’ third baseman on Opening Day.
2) How does the suspension impact the Yankees’ 2014 payroll?
There has been a lot of speculation about how Arod’s suspension will impact the Yankees’ attempt to dip below the $189 million luxury tax threshold. However, as this breakdown reveals, even with a significant AAV savings, the Yankees really have no chance of trimming their payroll below the limit. Assuming Arod’s suspension is upheld, the Yankees will enjoy approximately $24 million in AAV savings ($27.5 million minus approximately $3.2 million that will still be owed), but still find themselves precariously close to the $189 million plateau. In other words, although the Yankees will not have to pay Arod, they will have to pay the luxury tax.
3) How long is the suspension really?
The official word is Alex Rodriguez has been suspended for 162 games. However, there has also been an indication that the playoffs will be included as well. If true, this would represent another unprecedented punitive action taken against Rodriquez. Every other PED-related suspension has so far not included the post season, so by making an exception in Arod’s case, MLB is effectively lengthening the terms of the ban. Is this an action directly based on the arbitrator’s decision, or is it simply being implemented at the discretion of the commissioner’s office? Regardless, Rodriquez may have grounds for another appeal separate from his legal challenge, but if the latter is true, it would only re-enforce the perception that MLB has abandoned fairness in its attempt to punish Arod.
There’s another wrinkle to consider. What happens if the Yankees play more than 162 games in the 2014 season? Because tiebreakers are considered part of the regular season (i.e., game #163), would it fall under the umbrella of a 162-game ban, even if it includes the post season? Even though it’s unlikely that the Yankees would want a stale Rodriguez to participate in a tie-breaker, the possibility remains, especially considering that such a game would be played with 40-man rosters. Continue Reading »