What in the heck is A-Rod doing?

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Watching another afternoon train wreck involving Alex Rodriguez and Major League Baseball, I feel like it’s worth remembering two things:

1. Alex Rodriguez could have used PEDs like crazy, but still not have deserved a 211-game suspension; and

2. Bud Selig can have it in for A-Rod — could wish to see him burn at a stake as punishment for everyone else’s sins — yet still not be outside of his authority in suspending A-Rod.

We forget that as we spring to the defense of one side or another. Or, more often, as we spring to scorn one side or the other. But the fact is that each side is speaking some truth and each side is peddling baloney.

My personal view is that Major League Baseball overreached pretty severely in the penalty it leveled, and that a straightforward attack of that penalty as excessive by Alex Rodriguez and his legal team would serve as the best way for them to prevail. They still may do that. The arbitrator may be able to tune out all of this noise and focus solely on whether the punishment fits the crime, concluding that no, it doesn’t. If that happens, A-Rod could get a 50-game suspension, maybe. Or maybe nothing if MLB’s evidence and investigation is viewed as flawed or infirm.

But I also believe that A-Rod and Joe Tacopina are taking a gigantic risk in making this arbitration about Bud Selig personally and some vendetta against A-Rod in general. They risk alienating the arbitrator. They risk having a proportionality-of-punishment case lost in the noise. All for the promise of trying a lawsuit that, if the percentages on such things hold, never sees the light of day in court. I don’t understand why they’re doing this, but I feel like they are running the risk of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Normally one can see the motivations of putatively irrational action like this. But I don’t see the percentage for Alex Rodriguez in this approach. I don’t see what he possibly stands to gain by blowing up the arbitration like he has.

Yadier Molina will not enter contract negotiations during the 2017 season

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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.

Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:

I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.

The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.

The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.

Colby Rasmus could start 2017 on the disabled list

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Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.

Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.

The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.