NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An independent arbitrator has decided to alter Alex Rodriguez’s 211-game suspension — but not by much.
Fredric Horowitz announced Saturday that the New York Yankees third baseman will serve 162 games of the original ban handed down Aug. 5 by Major League Baseball under the joint drug agreement. The ruling also includes the entire 2014 postseason.
Rodriguez slammed the decision in a statement released by his publicist.
“The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one,” A-Rod said. “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,” he added.
Mike Francesa called into Evan Roberts’ show to discuss the breaking news that A-Rod would be suspended 162 games plus the 2014 postseason.
“A-Rod is gonna get 162 games at noon,” Francesa said. “I think that would mean they would go right to court. I don’t think he will accept it by any stretch of the imagination.”
Twelve players previously accepted 50-game suspensions related to MLB’s investigation into Biogenesis and performance-enhancing drugs. Milwaukee Brewers star Ryan Braun served a 65-game ban.
Rodriguez, who has denied using PEDs since his time with the Texas Rangers from 2001-03, vowed to challenge Horowitz’s decision in 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,” Rodriguez said. “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.”
The Major League Baseball Players Association also disagreed with the ruling.
“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,” the players’ union said in a statement. “In accordance with the confidentiality provisions of the JDA, the Association will make no further comment regarding the decision.”
A-Rod, who filed a lawsuit against the league in October, effectively put an end to his appeal hearing Nov. 20 when he stormed out of the proceedings. He would later make his way to the WFAN studios in Manhattan for a bombshell interview with radio host Mike Francesa.
“For more than five decades, the arbitration process under the Basic Agreement has been a fair and effective mechanism for resolving disputes and protecting player rights,” MLB said in a statement. “While we believe the original 211-game suspension was appropriate, we respect the decision rendered by the Panel and will focus on our continuing efforts on eliminating performance-enhancing substances from our game.”
The Yankees responded to the ruling via an official statement:
“The New York Yankees respect Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, the arbitration process, as well as the decision released today by the arbitration panel.”
The 38-year-old Rodriguez has four years remaining on his contract. According to Horowitz’s ruling, A-Rod is still entitled to roughly 11.5 percent of his $25 million 2014 salary. According to the AP, a person familiar with the decision said A-Rod is still due $2,868,852.46.
The Yankees stand to benefit greatly from the ruling, both in their quest to add additional players through free agency in what has already been for them a very active offseason, and to possibly get in under the $189 million salary tax threshold for 2014. If the Yankees do so, they will slice their luxury tax percentage from 50 to 17 percent.
“I will continue to work hard to get back on the field and help the Yankees achieve the ultimate goal of winning another championship,” A-Rod said. “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.”
Barring a reversal in federal court, the Yankees will save a vast amount of dough. Rodriguez was scheduled to receive a total of $25 million in base salary and possibly an additional $6 million in bonuses related to his ascension on the all-time home run list.
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