Are the Yankees done with Alex Rodriguez?
The New York Yankees, embarrassed by the latest charges against All-Star third baseman Alex Rodriguez, will explore the possibility of voiding Rodriguez’s contract or hope that Rodriguez simply retires, freeing up $114 million, according to a high-ranking Yankees executive.
The executive, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because of the pending investigation, said the Yankees were surprised Tuesday by a Miami New Times report that Rodriguez purchased performance-enhancing drugs in 2009 and 2012 from a South Florida wellness clinic, Biogenesis, owned and operated by Anthony Bosch.
Major League Baseball plans to summon Rodriguez to its New York offices after it receives paperwork from Drug Enforcement Agency officials, according to a high-ranking baseball executive who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
Rodriguez faces a possible 50-game suspension, which he could serve while still recovering from hip surgery, though he would lose about $9 million in salary.
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Once Rodriguez meets with MLB officials, the Yankees will examine their legal recourse and determine whether Rodriguez breached his contract, according to the Yankee executive.
The Yankees, according to the executive, could argue that Rodriguez violated a morals clause in his contract or perhaps lied about possible performance-enhancing drug use to team doctors.
Yet, there is no precedent for a team voiding a player’s contract because of performance-enhancing drug use. The Yankees unsuccessfully tried to void Jason Giambi’s contract in 2004 after he admitted steroid use to a San Francisco grand jury in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative case. There’s also a clause in the Basic Agreement that prohibits clubs from unilaterally disciplining players for violations of the Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
“I don’t have an answer to whether the Yankees could do that,” former MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent told USA TODAY Sports. “The union will protect the player. Maybe the Yankees will get (to keep) their money, and the insurance company will fight it out with Rodriguez.”
The Yankees declined to comment publicly, issuing a release that said: “This matter is now in the hands of the Commissioner’s Office. We will have no further comment until that investigation has concluded.”
Denial from Rodriguez
Rodriguez, who has admitted to steroid use from 2001 to 2003 when he played for the Texas Rangers, vehemently denied the latest report that he was involved with the clinic, and released a statement through a public relations firm.
“The news report about a purported relationship between Alex Rodriguez and Anthony Bosch are not true,” the statement read. “Alex Rodriguez was not Mr. Bosch’s patient, he was never treated by him and he was never advised by him. The purported documents referenced in the story — at least as they relate to Alex Rodriguez — are not legitimate.”
It’s possible the Yankees and Rodriguez could part company simply in the aftermath of Rodriguez’s Jan. 16 hip surgery that’s expected to sideline him at least until July. The surgery was complicated, orthopedist Bryan Kelly said, repairing a torn labrum and reshaping the femoral head of his thigh bone.
Kelly anticipated a return in six months, but the injury is potentially career-threatening.
“You have to wonder what kind of effect steroid use would have on that,” Vincent told USA TODAY Sports. “I remember Dr. (Frank) Jobe once telling me that he operated on a pitcher’s shoulder or elbow. The whole thing had just deteriorated. It turned to mush. Dr. Jobe told me, ‘I’ve never seen that before.’
“Years later, there were reports that the same pitcher was involved with heavy steroid use.”
Kelly, when asked several times over the last month about Rodriguez’s injury, said he believed it was caused by congenital deformity, not steroid use.
If Rodriguez can’t play again because of the hip surgery, he still would receive the remaining $114 million over the next five years in his contract. Yet, the team has an insurance policy on Rodriguez, the Yankees executive said, that would reimburse the club for about $100 million.
The Yankees would have to release Rodriguez, and prove to the insurance company that he was physically unable to play.
Rodriguez’s career has been in decline for the last five years, with his slugging percentage plummeting each season. He hit a 18 homers with 57 RBI last season, and batted .120 in the playoffs without an extra-base hit or RBI.
He was benched in the American League Division Series against the Baltimore Orioles and the AL Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers.
Rodriguez, who has 647 career homers, has never failed a MLB drug test since they were implemented in 2004.
Yet he tested positive in anonymous survey testing in 2003, according to Sports Illustrated. Shortly after that came to light in 2009, he admitted his use of performance-enhancing drugs from 2001 to 2003.
He also was linked in 2010 to Canadian doctor Anthony Galea, who had been indicted on charges of distributing HGH to professional athletes. Galea said he treated Rodriguez with anti-inflammatory medication after Rodriguez’s 2009 hip surgery.
After his most recent hip surgery, Rodriguez was scheduled to return to the Yankees in July, a month in which he will turn 38.
“I don’t think we’ll ever know what steroids do to the human body, but we do know that with the money out there, it makes it so hard for these young kids to resist,” Vincent said.
Let’s hope the Yankees can get the stiff “out of here!” EDB