A Question-and-Answer Look at MLB’s Drug Investigation
In question-and-answer form, a look at the issues and implications of Major League Baseball’s possible suspensions resulting from its investigation of the Biogenesis drug clinic:
Q: Which players are involved?
A: New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, a three-time AL MVP, is among 14 players facing discipline resulting from Major League Baseball’s investigation of the closed Biogenesis anti-aging clinic in Coral Gables, Fla. Three 2013 All-Stars also could be suspended: Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz, Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta and San Diego shortstop Everth Cabrera.
Q: What penalties are likely to the issued?
A: Most players probably will be suspended for 50 games. Rodriguez faces a longer penalty because he may have interfered with MLB’s investigation.
Q: When is discipline likely to be announced and why then?
A: Monday. That is the last possible day that all of the major leaguers under investigation could serve 50-game suspensions entirely during the 2013 regular season. Cruz’s Rangers are scheduled to play their 113th game of the season Monday night at the Los Angeles Angels.
Q: Why is A-Rod’s penalty likely to be longer?
A: The Yankees expect A-Rod 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 threatened him with up to a lifetime ban if he doesn’t agree to a negotiated settlement.
Q: Why doesn’t MLB just announce the discipline without negotiating?
A: Under baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement, players may challenge suspensions before an independent arbitrator, currently Fredric Horowitz. For a first offender who files a grievance, a suspension isn’t served unless it is upheld by the arbitrator. Baseball officials would like to reach as many agreements as possible that would avoid grievance hearings.
Q: If A-Rod appeals a suspension, would he be able to play for the Yankees?
A: Unclear. MLB has threatened to suspend him both under the drug agreement and the collective bargaining agreement, which doesn’t have the automatic stay provision.
Q: How likely is a lifetime ban for Rodriguez?
A: Even if a lifetime ban is announced, it may not be upheld in arbitration. When Commissioner Fay Vincent suspended Yankees pitcher Steve Howe for life in 1992, after his seventh suspension for drugs or alcohol, arbitrator George Nicolau reduced the penalty to 119 days.
Q: How much would suspensions cost players?
A: If Rodriguez is suspended Monday and misses the Yankees’ final 52 games this season, he would lose $7,956,284 from his major league-high $28 million salary. He is owed $25 million in 2014, $21 million in 2015 and $20 million in each of the final two seasons of his contract. Not at risk is a $3 million payment from the Yankees on Jan. 15, the final installment of his signing bonus, and $36 million-plus in interest owed by Texas from 2016-25, funds that were deferred in his contract with the Rangers and converted to an assignment bonus at the time of his trade to the Yankees in 2004. A 50-game suspension served this year would cost Cruz $2,732,240, Peralta $1,639,344 and Cabrera $348,361.
Q: How much would the Yankees save if Rodriguez is suspended?
A: New York potentially could get under the $189 million luxury tax threshold next year, which includes room for about $177 million in salaries, with the rest covered by benefits. If Rodriguez were suspended for all of 2014, the Yankees potentially would save $38.75 million — $25 million in salary and $13.75 million in luxury tax. If they get under the threshold in 2014, their tax rate for exceeding the threshold in 2015 would drop from 50 percent to 17.5 percent.
Q: Will Rodriguez’s AL Most Valuable Player awards from 2003, 2005 and 2007 be taken away?
A: No. The Baseball Writers Association of America says its voting is final when it is conducted and will not be revisited. Carlos Delgado finished second in 2003, David Ortiz in 2005 and Magglio Ordonez in 2007.