NEW YORK (CBSMiami) – In the standoff over a suspension between Major League Baseball and New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, it appears that A-Rod has blinked.
According to the Associated Press, MLB officials told A-Rod that he has a choice of either getting kicked out of baseball for the rest of his life, or don't try to fight a lengthy suspension that could include all of next year and still be allowed to come back when he's 40-years-old.
Even if Major League Baseball issued a lifetime ban for Rodriguez, depending on how the suspension is applied either under the drug agreement or the collective bargaining agreement, it's likely that an arbitrator would limit the suspension to 200 games, according to the AP.
The number of players likely to be disciplined stood at 14 as of Thursday morning.
A-Rod is the biggest fish MLB is likely going to catch in the net surrounding the investigation of Biogenesis of America, a closed Coral Gables anti-aging clinic that allegedly distributed banned performance-enhancing drugs.
The Yankees expected Rodriguez to be accused of recruiting other athletes for the clinic, attempting to obstruct MLB's investigation, and not being truthful with MLB in the past. Baseball has considered suspending him for violations of its labor contract and drug agreement.
Even if he is banned from baseball, there is precedent for a shortened penalty: When pitcher Steve Howe was given a lifetime ban in 1992 in his seventh suspension for drug or alcohol use, an arbitrator reduced the penalty to 119 days.
A three-time MVP, Rodriguez acknowledged four years ago that he used performance-enhancing substances while with Texas from 2001-03, but repeatedly has denied using them since.
He's been sidelined all season since hip surgery in January and then a quadriceps strain during a minor league rehabilitation assignment in July. The Yankees say he'll start another rehab Friday — Double-A Trenton appeared to be the likely destination.
The catch is the Yankees reportedly don't want A-Rod back in the clubhouse and would likely prefer a lifetime ban to get out from under Rodriguez's albatross of a contract. If Rodriguez is suspended for life, he loses out on $90 million, whereas if he misses just next year, he's likely out a little more than $30 million.
At first, MLB and the union thought talks on the Biogenesis probe could be completed by Friday, but negotiations to avoid grievances are likely to push back announcements until at least Saturday or Sunday.
Others accused in media reports of receiving performance-enhancing drugs from Biogenesis include a trio of 2013 All-Stars: Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz, San Diego shortstop Everth Cabrera and Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta.
Most of the players face 50-game bans as first offenders. Both sides felt an urgency to complete the process because by the middle of next week, teams will have fewer than 50 games left. And that would force players to complete suspensions during the playoffs or at the start of next season.
Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski protected against a possible suspension of Peralta by acquiring slick-fielding infielder Jose Iglesias from Boston in a three-team trade Tuesday night.
"If it were a 15-day thing, like a typical injury, I think we could have comfortably dealt with it with the players we already have," Dombrowski said Wednesday. "But when you start to talk about 50 days and a possible playoff run, we feel better going ahead with Jose."
While MLB told the union which players it intends to suspend, it hasn't issued formal notices of discipline. Because of that, the countdown hasn't started under baseball's Joint Drug Agreement, which says the suspensions are effective on the third business day after the notice is issued.
The sides also haven't decided whether suspensions for first-time offenders who challenge the penalty can be announced before an arbitration decision. If some stars knew their seasons were about to be cut short, they weren't letting on Wednesday, at least publicly.
"I can't talk about nothing right now. Just wait for the news," Cabrera said Wednesday before playing against Cincinnati.
Peralta thinks he shouldn't be on the list of players linked to Biogenesis.
"It's wrong," he said. "But whatever happens, I need to fight and try to move on."
Toronto outfielder Melky Cabrera, Oakland pitcher Bartolo Colon and San Diego catcher Yasmani Grandal all were suspended for 50 games last year for positive tests for elevated testosterone. MLB informed the union they won't receive additional discipline for that violation.
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