We've been waiting for a long time to hear what is going to happen to Alex Rodriguez, and today is the day. A decision has finally been made by independent arbitrator Frederic Horowitz and the verdict is guilty. As punishment, Alex Rodriguez will receive a 162-game ban to keep him out for the entire 2014 season. It's a small victory for Team A-Rod, knocking the suspension down from 211 games, though that was unlikely to be enforced. This is a major victory in Bud Selig and Major League Baseball's fight against steroids and A-Rod.
As it stands now, the Yankees are set to save $27 million in taxable dollars against the 2014 budget. According to Joe Sherman, they will only have to pay $3,155,737.70, since the suspension is for a full season, not a full year. A-Rod will not be able to collect his $6 million on home run bonus money either, so it's looking very likely that the Yankees end up getting under the $189 million budget after all.
According to Jon Heyman, the suspension is 162 games, plus the playoffs, so A-Rod would not be able to play at all in 2014.
Right now, A-Rod would still be eligible for the playoffs, if the Yankees can make it this year, but, even with a verdict, we haven't heard the last of this legal battle. Rodriguez has long been expected to to challenge a guilty verdict in Federal court, where his team of lawyers would file an injunction against his suspension in order to allow him to play in spring training and the regular season.
Rodriguez has issued a statement about the verdict and how he plans to continue to fight it:
"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."
Here is the MLBPA's statement on the matter:
The MLBPA strongly disagrees with the award issued today in the grievance of Alex Rodriguez, even despite the Arbitration Panel's decision to reduce the duration of Mr. Rodriguez's unprecedented 211-game suspension. We recognize that a final and binding decision has been reached, however, and we respect the collectively-bargained arbitration process which led to the decision. In accordance with the confidentiality provisions of the JDA, the Association will make no further comment regarding the decision.
Translation: That sucks for you, A-Rod, but you're on your own from here.
So we might have a verdict, but this story is long from over.