Post, Daily News report on an A-Rod plot to “retire” to avoid Biogenesis discipline

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This feels like a game of telephone. Or a half-baked plot being floated. Whatever you want to call it, it seems off for a couple of reasons. The upshot:

  • The New York Daily News has a report that A-Rod is rushing to get back to rehab games so that, once he plays in game action, he can claim that he’s physically unable to perform, take an Albert Belle-style medical “retirement” (i.e. go on the DL for the rest of his career) and thereby, they say, avoid discipline in the Biogenesis thing; and
  • The New York Post, with a somewhat contradictory spin, says that rather than rush back to rehab games, A-Rod is telling the Yankees that he’s not ready to come back, but the endgame is still the same: go on the 60-day DL for the next few years, getting a defacto retirement, and thereby collect money and avoid Biogenesis discipline.

There is one major thing wrong with this: drug suspensions don’t work that way.

Whether A-Rod is playing or not, he cannot avoid Biogenesis discipline if it comes down by going on the DL. Yes, a player on the disabled list can technically “serve” his suspension in games he would have missed anyway — remember when Freddy Galvis did this? — but he’s still getting his pay docked. Thus the endgame described in both stories — A-Rod somehow evading Biogenesis discipline to “collect his fat salary,” as the Daily News headline puts it — makes zero sense. Whether he’s playing or disabled, he will lose 50 games pay for a 50 game suspension, 100 games pay for a 100 game suspension and his lifetime pay for a lifetime suspension. The disabled list gambit saves him nothing.

So what’s the point of this? Well, this is curious. From the Daily News:

The Yankees, who are currently paying Rodriguez’s $28 million 2013 salary, could conceivably then try to collect insurance on the remainder of the contract, as the Orioles did with Belle.

From the Post:

Should Rodriguez retire because of a medical problem, he would avoid a possible suspension by MLB in the Biogenesis mess. The Yankees would also be able to collect 80 percent of the $114 million from insurance.

Oh, so the Yankees would benefit* from this scenario, even if A-Rod wouldn’t? And what else? This is the same scenario that was floated over and over again back in January by Yankees front office officials, with multiple members of the media playing along, all while A-Rod and those close to him continued to talk up his eagerness to get his rehab going?

This sounds like more wishcasting from the Yankees front office. A day after A-Rod pisses all of them off with his tweets, we once again see the “maybe A-Rod will just go away and never play again so we can collect insurance money” story. In a scenario that does absolutely zero to benefit Alex Rodriguez but would solve the Yankees’ PR and financial problems. Amazing that.

*Worth noting that the people who like the whole “the Yankees can just collect the insurance money!” idea have clearly never dealt with insurance companies before.

Evan Longoria: “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”

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The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.