The New York Yankees better hope Alex Rodriguez heals up from hip surgery and starts hitting home runs again for the next five summers. Because there's almost zero chance they can void the remainder of his contract, which is worth $114 million, regardless of the details published Miami's New Times newspaper Tuesday that identify Rodriguez as having bought performance-enhancing drugs as recently as 2012.
Unless the Yankees somehow sue him successfully, the worst A-Rod could get is a 50-game suspension from the league as a first-time offender under the framework of baseball's drug policy. And even that is extremely unlikely because Rodriguez, who has denied the legitimacy of the story, hasn't failed a drug test. That's the mechanism for punishing players.
No matter, an ESPN story says the Yankees "are looking at about 20 different" ways A-Rod might have violated the terms of his contract. And yet, the story's own sources say the Yankees would be pursuing a legal dead end if they tried to void it:
"Baseball's drug policy was specifically written so that teams can't do things like this," one of the sources said. "You can't use this to try to get out of the last years of a contract."
And then there's this:
"All contracts have moral clauses," a baseball official who handles contract negotiations said. "It will come down to the language in (Rodriguez's) contract. If it is a normal moral clause, (the Yankees) won't have much of a case."
It's normal. They don't have much of a case.
Rodriguez's production has dropped in each of the past five seasons. He's still an above-average ballplayer, he's just not what the Yankees were hoping for when they signed him. They want to void Rodriguez's contract because he's not worth it anymore, and the likelihood of him ever being worth it again might be smaller than New York's potential legal case.
The Yankees could embarrass A-Rod. They could lower him in the lineup. They could pinch-hit for him in the late innings. They could bench him. They could link him romantically to Mr. Met. They can do all sorts of stuff to him, just so long as they pay him.
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