Alex Rodriguez Gets 162-Game Ban, and Its Effect On The Toronto Blue Jays

Sep 17, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez (13) reacts after being called out on strikes in the eighth inning by home plate umpire Gerry Davis (12) in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. The Toronto Blue Jays won 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

It is official, arbitrator Frederic Horowitz has levied his ruling in regards to New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and it has not gone well for the embattled slugger. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the suspension is for 162 games (or the entire 2014 season) and Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports follows up by noting that the suspension will include the 2014 postseason.

In response to the suspension, Rodriguez issued the following statement via his Facebook page.

“The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one. This is one man’s decision, that was not put before a fair and impartial jury, does not involve me having failed a single drug test, is at odds with the facts and is inconsistent with the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement, and relies on testimony and documents that would never have been allowed in any court in the United States because they are false and wholly unreliable. This injustice is MLB’s first step toward abolishing guaranteed contracts in the 2016 bargaining round, instituting lifetime bans for single violations of drug policy, and further insulating its corrupt investigative program from any variety defense by accused players, or any variety of objective review.

I have been clear that I did not use performance enhancing substances as alleged in the notice of discipline, or violate the Basic Agreement or the Joint Drug Agreement in any manner, and in order to prove it I will take this fight to federal court. I am confident that when a Federal Judge reviews the entirety of the record, the hearsay testimony of a criminal whose own records demonstrate that he dealt drugs to minors, and the lack of credible evidence put forth by MLB, that the judge will find that the panel blatantly disregarded the law and facts, and will overturn the suspension. No player should have to go through what I have been dealing with, and I am exhausting all options to ensure not only that I get justice, but that players’ contracts and rights are protected through the next round of bargaining, and that the MLB investigation and arbitration process cannot be used against others in the future the way it is currently being used to unjustly punish me.

I will continue to work hard to get back on the field and help the Yankees achieve the ultimate goal of winning another championship. I want to sincerely thank my family, all of my friends, and of course the fans and many of my fellow MLB players for the incredible support I received throughout this entire ordeal.”

Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes that while the MLB Players’s Union does not agree with the decision handed down against A-Rod, they do agree with the process in place and therefore will not fight the ruling. That means A-Rod will proceed to a federal court without the aid of his own union fighting for him and also having that as a possible obstacle in the eyes of the court.

So while A-Rod will have his hands full, this remains somewhat of a bittersweet ruling for both the Yankees and the rest of the American League East.

For the Yankees, they will receive $24.3 million in luxury tax threshold relief (again according to Joel Sherman), which will allow them to address other needs and perhaps stay under the $189 million luxury tax threshold for the first time. However, while that may mean then have more mean in which to chase after Masahiro Tanaka, Ubaldo Jimenez, or Ervin Santana (or all of the above), the suspension also opens up another substantial hole for the Yankees at third base. Regardless of whether or not they wanted the salary relief, the Yankees will not be able to find a suitable replacement for A-Rod in a pool of players that include Mark Reynolds, Yuniesky Betancourt, Wilson Betemit, Chris Nelson, Placido Polanco, Ty Wigginton, or Michael Young.

For the rest of the American League East, including the Toronto Blue Jays, this could mean a few things. First and foremost, the Yankees need pitching, which does not bode well for the Blue Jays. With A-Rod’s salary relief, they could feasibly go all out on Tanaka, as well as signing either Jimenez or Santana. The added spending flexibility of the Yankees will also allow the aforementioned free agents to push their asking prices higher knowing that the Yankees are fully invested in the party now. The Yankees could opt to address those needs and find a short-term solution at third base at a bargain price, allowing them to focus their spending power where they need it most.

However, if the Yankees decide to make a different move at third base, like trading for Chase Headley with a heavier financial commitment, they could be reduced to landing only one of their coveted targets. However, with A-Rod’s suspension only for one season and his contract running through the 2017 season, a short-term signing seems the most likely solution here.

For the Blue Jays, this spells trouble in addressing their own pitching needs. The team doesn’t seem poised to win a bidding war between the Yankees and Dodgers for Tanaka, nor would they like to enter into one for the likes of either Santana, Jimenez, or even Matt Garza. They could see what happens in the fall-out and try to scoop up whomever is left standing, but with other teams still looking for pitching at well, that could work against them.

Regardless, the A-Rod ruling is a win for Major League Baseball and their fight against performance-enhancing substances. It proves that the process works and that both parties are on-board with cleaning up the game. A federal court will have a hard time throwing out a ruling against A-Rod in a collectively-bargained process, especially one in which the players union is choosing not to fight in its own right.

Chalk one up for the good guys.

Topics: Alex Rodriguez, Toronto Blue Jays

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  • brad

    I really hate A-Rod and think full season bans for 1 positive test and lifetime bans for a second should be commonplace in the MLB. That being said, I just don’t understand why what A Rod did was 100 games worse than what anyone else did. Is it because he lied during the investigation? Braun lied when he got investigated the first time and he still only got 65 games. I suppose they could be giving him more because records show he did more wrong….. but it’s hard for me to believe that he has actually been using for much longer than a guy like Cruz. Finally, the burden of proof is on the MLB here. Does testimony and records from a felon constitute proof that what he did was so much worse? Does it really constitute proof at all? If I wrote a ledger that showed monthly payments from someone, said it was for heroin and testified in court, that would not be nearly enough for possession conviction…. so why is it here?(my guess is that it may have at least a little bit to do with the mlb appointed arbitrator…) I think A-Rod(and all other drug users) should be severely punished(as should their teams) but this seems really fishy to me….

    I guess I kind of went off track from what the article was about. I really wish teams still had to pay a suspended player’s salary(into a collective fund and not to the player)….. That way situations where a suspension is actually good for the club that benefited from the enhanced performance could never happen.

    • http://jaysjournal.com/ Michael Wray

      Full-season suspension for A-Rod means arbitrator agreed his conduct far worse than others & he interfered with investigation.— T.J. Quinn (@TJQuinnESPN) January 11, 2014

      • cjohnson03

        Yup, I think it had a whole lot to do with him trying to buy the records and books that included his name. Plus he already came out and said he used steroids in the past, but not anymore, meanwhile he’s obviously been using them still. My question is, why they didn’t catch him through testing, and had to use the evidence from the drug bust to get him? How ineffective is the MLB drug testing procedures if guys who are clearly using PEDs are not getting caught directly?

      • brad

        mlb appointed arbitrator…
        I also(like cjohnson) think it was a lot to do with him trying to buy records…. but am perplexed about why it’s fair play and “part of the investigation” when mlb goes ahead and does the same thing. At the end of the day it was one man’s testimony… and that man was 1) a felon and 2) profiting(via not getting sued and being paid for records) for implicating arod. Just doesn’t sound very law-like to me.Really exceptional point by CJ about drug testing too…… im not a conspiracy theorist but this smells fishy,

    • Gary Kimbrel

      I can’t speak for the article or its author, but in my mind, you’re speaking to exactly what the real issue is. Why are the punishments so varied, and who is benefiting? Obviously, it’s not a black and white issue, but in a capitalism, finding incentive means following the money.

      • brad

        exactly. I think it would be pretty easy to eliminate this kind of thing by hitting the team just as hard as the player. I.e. a team whose player is suspended for PED use must pay 20 million bucks per 162 games of suspension into a fund to the other 31 teams…. and have it count against the luxury tax