UPDATE: Rosenthal has updated his column, making it clear that he’s not advocating insurance fraud. Rather, he’s talking about the possibility that A-Rod may not be able to come back absent the PEDs he’s been allegedly taking these past several years. I get that distinction, but I don’t think it changes the calculus much. Insurance companies would still fight any permanent disability claim tooth and nail, seeing them as matters born of opportunity, not of his actual physical condition.
8:31 AM: In the last post we saw Darren Rovell suggest that A-Rod and the Yankees commit insurance fraud. I figured, well, that’s just Rovell being Rovell. He tweets a lot of off-the-wall things. But apparently he’s not alone on the Insurance Fraud Express. Rosenthal goes there this morning:
The Yankees probably cannot void Alex Rodriguez’s contract, and they might not even need to try. A-Rod just might void himself. Specifically, Rodriguez might find a doctor who says he is suffering from a career-ending injury, collect the $114 million remaining on his contract and never play again … A-Rod can attempt to go through his rehabilitation, then make the case that he is physically unable to perform. A doctor surely could make such a diagnosis quite plausible, given the weakened condition of Rodriguez’s two hips.
Absolutely no one was suggesting that A-Rod’s career was over this time yesterday morning. This is 100% inspired by the bad P.R. created by the Miami New Times story. To say it’s “plausible” that a doctor could be found to say that A-Rod is done as a baseball player is the sort of thing ambulance-chasing lawyers who are ambivalent about insurance fraud say. Sure, of course you could find a doctor to say that, I suppose. But it has to actually be true, not “plausible.”
Any insurance company that would be on the hook for A-Rod’s disability claim is ten steps ahead of any columnist baking up such schemes this morning. They have read the December report from A-Rod’s own surgeon in which he said that A-Rod had less cartilage damage than expected than that “his rehab has the highest chance of successfully getting back to the level with his hip that he was before his hip started hurting.” They have also read the reports since yesterday in which the Yankees are portrayed as looking for any way possible to get out from under the $114 million he’s owed. They will fight and fight hard against any claim that A-Rod is permanently disabled, especially given that all of this talk about his alleged permanent disability magically popped up on some Tuesday morning when A-Rod became far more unpopular than he was previously.
Everyone, back away from the ledge. Stop suggesting that A-Rod’s situation is any different than any other ballplayer busted for PEDs. The only difference is that (a) A-Rod is owed a lot more money than most of them; and (b) A-Rod is a lot less popular than most of them. That’s it. And that is all that is inspiring this talk of voiding deals or committing felony insurance fraud so the New York Yankees don’t have to pay him anymore.
Report: Blue Jays and Josh Donaldson agree to two-year, $29 million deal
The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.
Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. They were able to get it done in this case. Donaldson was a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.
The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.
Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.
Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.
Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.
While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.
After Ruben Tejada suffered a fractured right fibula on a takeout slide from Chase Utley during the playoffs, there was momentum for a new rule about slides at second base. We haven’t heard much about it since the Owners’ Meetings in November, but ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that talks between MLB and the players’ union are making progress and a change is expected for the 2016 season.
The exact wording of the new rule is still unclear, but Olney hears that there’s a focus toward “ensuring that sliding runners either touch the base or make an effort to touch the base.” Below are some more details:
Sources said that in the union’s internal discussions, players made it clear they had been taught since they first began playing baseball to go into second base with the intent of breaking up double-play attempts. Although the union wants to improve safety for middle infielders, it does not want to eliminate players’ aggressiveness on slides or the ability to break up a double play.
However, there is a desire on both sides to eliminate slides on which a baserunner goes beyond the effort to reach second to make contact with middle infielders.
There’s already a rule in place for a situation like we saw with Utley, but it’s rarely, if ever, enforced. It’s unfortunate that Tejada’s fractured fibula had to be the catalyst for change or clarification with the rules, but hopefully this will result in fewer injuries in the future. Similar to the “Buster Posey Rule” for plays at home plate, get ready for life with the “Chase Utley Rule.”
Here’s the video of the Tejada/Utley play:
And here’s the video of another high-profile play from 2015 which resulted in a torn lateral meniscus and a fractured tibia for Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang: