Alex Rodriguez

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.

Giants and Brandon Belt have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday

San Francisco Giants'  Brandon Belt reacts after being called out on strikes by home plate umpire Jim Joyce to end the top of the first inning against the Colorado Rockies in a baseball game Friday, Sept.. 4, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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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.

Padres sign veteran utility player Skip Schumaker

Cincinnati Reds' Skip Schumaker is tagged out at home plate by San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey during the seventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

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.

Report: MLB, union making progress on new slide rule at second base

New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada falls after a slide by Los Angeles Dodgers' Chase Utley during the seventh inning of an NL Division Series baseball game Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, in Los Angeles. (John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News via AP)
John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News via AP
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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:

Report: Tigers and J.D. Martinez agree to a two-year, $18.5 million deal

J.D. Martinez
Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images
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UPDATE: Jason Beck of MLB.com confirms that it’s a two-year, $18.5 million deal.

8:00 p.m. ET: Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Tigers have avoided arbitration with outfielder J.D. Martinez by agreeing to a two-year contract. No word yet on the terms involved, but Robert Murray of Baseball Essential reported earlier today that he was hearing rumblings about a two-year, $18.5 million deal.

Martinez filed for $8 million and was offered $6 million by the Tigers when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. There has been some talk about a long-term extension, but we heard last week that the two sides were discussing both one- and two-year deals. This new deal will buy out Martinez’s final two years of arbitration, so as of now, he’s still on track to go into free agency after 2017.

After a breakout 2014, Martinez batted .282 with 38 home runs and an .879 OPS over 158 games last season.