NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Alex Rodriguez might not make it back to the Yankees this year. Or ever.
Major League Baseball is threatening to kick A-Rod out of the game for life unless the New York star agrees not to fight a lengthy suspension for his role in the sport’s latest drug scandal, according to a person familiar with the discussions.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized.
Whether Commissioner Bud Selig would actually issue a lifetime suspension was unclear and a permanent ban could be shortened by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz to about 200 games, the person said.
MLB’s threats may be working. A-Rod’s representatives “are now negotiating a possible settlement that could result in a lengthy suspension” after the slugger was presented with “volumes” of evidence connecting him to Biogenesis, ESPN reported Wednesday.
Front and center in MLB’s latest scandal is Rodriguez, baseball’s highest-paid player and the most prominent one linked in media reports over the past seven months to Biogenesis of America, a closed Florida anti-aging clinic that allegedly distributed banned performance-enhancing drugs.
The New York Daily News puts the number of players facing discipline at nine, including Rodriguez. All but A-Rod, whose lawyer said this week that they were readying for an appeal, have been offered 50-game bans, the paper reported.
The Yankees expected Rodriguez 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 considered suspending him for violations of its labor contract and drug agreement.
Even if he is banned from baseball, there is precedent for a shortened penalty: When pitcher Steve Howe was given a lifetime ban in 1992 in his seventh suspension for drug or alcohol use, an arbitrator reduced the penalty to 119 days.
“That was a terrible mistake by the union,” former MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent told WFAN radio on Wednesday. “The union supported Howe. The union got the arbitrator to reverse my judgement and bring him back for one more time. It was really a disgraceful episode, and I think Bud has got the point. He’s got to come down very hard on this chemistry in baseball.”