Major League Baseball is preparing to suspend as many as 20 players, including Alex Rodriguez and Francisco Cervelli, in connection to PED’s and Biogenesis, according to a report by ESPN’s T.J. Quinn, Pedro Gomez, and Mike Fish of Outside The Lines.
Tony Bosch, the Miami-based clinic’s founder, has an agreement with MLB to name names and the league could suspend players in the upcoming weeks based on his information. The report said that MLB will try to get 100 game suspensions for certain players including A-Rod and Ryan Braun.
Robinson Cano was also connected to Biogenesis. However, it was through a spokeswoman for his charity foundation so we currently don’t know if he’ll be caught up in the suspensions. A Yankees official said he’s not apart of investigations, but his name will certainly come up when MLB reps sit down with Bosch on Friday so he’s certainly not completely in the clear yet.
This entire thing is very messy and unpredictable right now because no players have technically failed drug tests. The players and the union will certainly try to fight any and all suspensions although the CBA does have language in it that does allow MLB to suspend players for PED’s even without a positive test.
It does seem unlikely that a 100-game suspension to A-Rod will hold up as this would be his first violation and the CBA clearly states that a first PED violation carries with it a 50-game suspension. MLB will argue that he was in violation first when he used steroids and again when he lied to them during its investigation. That one will be interesting to see how it plays out.
A-Rod is, of course, on the DL right now rehabbing from offseason hip surgery. He’s expected back sometime after the All-Star break. If he is suspended, he’ll be able to serve that suspension even though he’s on the DL. So if a 50-game ban started exactly two weeks from now he’d be eligible to come back mid-August. If A-Rod was successfully hit with a 100-game ban that would keep him out all season and part of next year as well.
As far as voiding A-Rod’s contract, a suspension would make the Yankees case to void it slightly better, but it still seems unlikely. I’m sure they’d check into it again, but the player’s union would certainly fight it because punishments are already spelled out in the CBA. It seems highly unlikely that they would be able to punish him after he was already punished by MLB.
As far as Cervelli is concerned, right now he’s on the DL with a broken finger. He’s set to come back as soon as he’s eligible to come off the 60-day DL though which is sometime at the end of June. So while he will be able to serve some of his potential suspension while on the DL, he would miss all of July and part of August.
Both of those potential suspensions would certainly hurt the Yankees, but the big blow would be if Cano got suspended.
Right now it is impossible to say if Cano would be a part of a mass suspension. The report did quote an unnamed Yankees official who said that he isn’t part of the investigation. However, it depends on what Bosch tells MLB investigators on Friday. Bosch could potentially have to have knowledge that Cano’s representative was indeed buying PED’s for him and not for herself as they both have claimed.
If Cano is suspended though, the Yankees playoff hopes might be dead. The team has been able to handle a huge list of injuries this season precisely because of Cano. He’s their best player and it’s no coincidence that they usually win when he has a good night and often lose when he’s shutout. It’s going to be a close race for the Yankees all the way down to October and losing Cano for 50 games could be their death knell.
What complicates all of this is the fact that players are almost certain to appeal any suspensions. I figure suspensions won’t come for another two weeks, at least, and 50 games after that would put their returns at mid-August. However, appeals could potentially go on for weeks which means that they might not even start the suspensions until July or even August. If that were the case suspensions could carry over to the playoffs and maybe even next season.
One final thing I want to mention concerning A-Rod. While the Yankees probably won’t be able to void his contract no matter what, they could decide that enough is enough and work out some sort of buyout agreement. I doubt he would be too excited to go that route, but this entire thing could get ugly especially throughout the appeal process. There might be a percentage of his contract that he would agree to take to just walk away. I wouldn’t get excited by this possibility though.
Right now I’m not concerned about A-Rod’s future though, the Yankees got Kevin Youkilis precisely because they knew they couldn’t count on him this season. The thing I’m worried about right now is Cano. If he gets caught up in the suspensions the Yankees season might be over and that’s what scares me right now.
• The Yankees granted the release of Clay Rapada. He’s been in Triple-A all season since a shoulder injury in Spring Training. The Yankees simply don’t need him in the bullpen despite how lethal he can be against lefties and he probably figured he could find major league work elsewhere. Rapada held lefties to a .186/.263/.255 line in 115 plate appearances last season.
• Ben Francisco cleared waivers after being DFA’d, but the Yankees released him rather than send him to Triple-A.
• Just in case Robinson Cano gets suspended you might want to buy Yankees tickets to see him now. After all, he could potentially leave as a free agent after this season.
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images).