What happens next in the A-Rod saga?


We know what MLB has done (dropped the hammer). We know what Alex Rodriguez will do (appeal). So what happens next?

A-Rod plays

Technically, Rodriguez’s suspension does not go into effect until Thursday. This is due to certain procedural provisions built into the disciplinary rules which call for a certain amount of time for a player to be given official notice of the discipline and to prepare his response. As we know, Rodriguez is allowed to play pending appeal. If he were to lose his appeal, every game he plays during the appeal’s pendency will be tacked back on to the end so that he serves his full time. So if he loses, A-Rod will be out of baseball into 2015.

The Arbitraion

The appeal will be held before independent arbitrator, Fred Horowitz, who was hired by agreement between Major League Baseball and the players’ union to hear such appeals. The schedule is in flux, as arbitrations tend to follow a relaxed procedure compared to formal cases in courts of law, but most experts believe that the appeal will be heard sometime in September.

At arbitration, both Rodriguez and Major League Baseball will be able to put on evidence, just like any court case. It is presumed that Anthony Bosch and/or Porter Fischer of Biogenesis will testify. Major League Baseball, which has suggested that its evidence against Rodriguez is quite strong, likely has other witnesses and reams of documents as well. It is not certain if Alex Rodriguez will testify, though it is uncommon for players to do so at arbitration.  Rodriguez’s main argument could likewise sidestep his actions altogether and focus instead on the notion that, whatever he did, 211 games is too severe a sanction.

Horowitz can do any number of things with Major League Baseball’s decision. He could sustain the suspension as-is. He could reduce it. He could overrule it in its entirety.  The parties could settle before an arbitration begins. Or during it.

After the arbitration

No matter who wins and who loses, the arbitration is likely to be the final word. It is technically possible for a losing party to appeal an adverse arbitration decision to a regular court of law, but it is extraordinarily difficult to do so — one usually need prove that the arbitrator wildly exceeded his legal authority — and such moves are rarely successful.

In essence, once the arbitrator renders his decision — which could take any amount of time given how much discretion the arbitrator has to do his work — the case will be over.

Wild cards

It has been suggested that perhaps Rodriguez could file a lawsuit outside of the arbitration process. Such a move was far more likely when Major League Baseball was considering going outside of the Joint Drug Agreement and trying to keep A-Rod off the field during his appeal. Now that they have declined to do that, it’s highly likely that no court would entertain an A-Rod lawsuit unless and until the arbitration was over.

The Money

If the 211-game suspension is holds, Rodriguez can expect to lose around $34 million of the roughly $100 million remaining on his contract. Doing the math, that’s a bit over $161,000 a game. Even with some expensive lawyers working with the meter running make shaving every game off that suspension highly desirable for Rodriguez.

David Phelps to undergo Tommy John surgery

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Pitcher David Phelps has a torn UCL and will undergo Tommy John surgery, ending his 2018 season, the Mariners announced on Wednesday. Phelps was making brief one-inning stints in the Cactus League as he worked his way back from a procedure to remove a bone spur from his elbow last September. He said he felt the ligament tear on his final pitch against the Angels in his March 17 appearance.

Phelps, 31, was expected to set up for closer Edwin Diaz. The right-hander, between the Marlins and Mariners last season, posted a 3.40 ERA with a 62/26 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. He and the Mariners avoided arbitration in January, agreeing on a $5.55 million salary for the 2018 campaign. Phelps will become eligible to become a free agent at the end of the season.

As the Mariners noted in their statement, the expected recovery period for Tommy John surgery is 12-15 months, so this very likely cuts into Phelps’ 2019 season as well.