Major League Baseball plans on suspending New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez through the 2014 season after his hardline stance against accepting significant discipline for his role in the Biogenesis scandal led to a stalemate Saturday evening, two sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Baseball is expected to levy suspensions Monday using both the collective-bargaining agreement, which would banish Rodriguez immediately and keep him off the field before his planned return from injury that day, as well as the joint drug agreement, sources said.
The 214-game penalty, first reported by the New York Daily News, would be the longest non-lifetime suspension in baseball history.
Rodriguez and his attorney, David Cornwell, have said they would appeal a suspension. While the commissioner's office awaited expected plea agreements from most of the players revealed in its investigation of Biogenesis, a wellness clinic that distributed performance-enhancing drugs to more than a dozen players, Rodriguez has been resistant to striking any deal.
Late into discussions, Rodriguez’s camp continued to take the position that the 38-year-old is a first-time offender and thus should not be suspended for longer than 50 games, according to a source close to the player. While it was a negotiating stance similar to MLB’s threat to suspend Rodriguez for life, it underscored the canyon between the sides and set up a massive battle in an arbitration hearing.
MLB fired a pre-emptive shot Saturday, refusing to meet with Rodriguez a day after he referred obliquely to "people [who] are finding creative ways to cancel [my] contract." According to sources, Rodriguez's camp contacted the players' union Saturday morning in the hopes it could arrange a meeting with MLB officials. Rodriguez's people, according to the same sources, also sought to meet directly with Yankees officials, possibly in an effort to strike a financial settlement.
MLB apparently told the union the time for negotiation had passed and that the league intended to announce discipline for a dozen players on Monday, including some whose names have not been made public.
If he were suspended through next season, Rodriguez would lose roughly $34 million of $95 million due him through 2017. He would return in 2015, three months before his 40th birthday. Despite the posturing, sources believe if Rodriguez were to approach the league before its 6 p.m. ET deadline Sunday and accept a penalty close to the 214 games the league is seeking, MLB would consider a compromise. At this point, following behind-closed-doors bickering and strong accusations against Rodriguez, neither party considers that possibility altogether likely.
Instead, they are prepared to duke it out in front of baseball’s new arbitrator, Frederic Horowitz. His predecessor, Shyam Das, was fired by MLB after overturning the suspension of Ryan Braun on a chain-of-custody issue. Cornwell was Braun’s attorney.
Less than two weeks ago, Braun accepted a 65-game suspension after Anthony Bosch, the owner of Biogenesis, detailed his performance-enhancing drug use to MLB.
Bosch has outlined Rodriguez’s alleged doping scheme, which dates back years, to league officials. MLB also believes Rodriguez has bought evidence related to and interfered with the Biogenesis investigation enough to warrant commissioner Bud Selig wielding either a best-interests-of-baseball clause or an integrity-of-the-game clause to suspend Rodriguez immediately and prevent him from playing while his appeal is heard.
Rodriguez had met previously with MLB investigators and, according to a source, refused to answer their questions. On Friday night in Trenton, where he is rehabbing a quadriceps injury, Rodriguez hit a long home run and then implied he would not give up the fight against MLB or the Yankees. He appeared most concerned with saving as much of his contract as he could, against what he seems to believe is an effort by the Yankees to be rid of him and the largest deal in team sports history.
"I think that's the pink elephant in the room," Rodriguez told reporters in Trenton. "I think we all agree that we want to get rid of PEDs. That's a must. I think all the players feel that way. But when all the stuff is going on in the background and people are finding creative ways to cancel your contract, I think that's concerning for me. It's concerning for present [players] and it should be concerning for future players as well. There is a process. … I'm going to keep fighting."
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