Buster Olney wrote something that turned my head today. That A-Rod had a plea deal possible back in the spring — for a low, low, number of games — and turned it down:
If Rodriguez had agreed to something last spring, before MLB investigators had all the Biogenesis details from Bosch, Rodriguez might’ve been able to barter for a suspension for something close to 50 games, or what a first-time offender gets for a first positive PED test. If he had taken responsibility then, owned up and made his best possible deal, then A-Rod probably would’ve been back on the field late in the 2013 season, with the whole matter behind him.
I was skeptical of this when I first read it, as I recalled no report, credible or otherwise, suggesting that A-Rod or any of the Biogenesis-connected players had a plea deal on the table in April or May, which is the timeframe Olney mentions. And certainly no plea deal to A-Rod in the neighborhood of 50 games at any time.
But, inspired by Olney’s report, I made some calls. And Buster was right. According to sources familiar with Major League Baseball’s investigation, there was a window of time — while Rodriguez was still represented by attorneys Jay Reisinger and James Sharp and before Major League Baseball flipped Tony Bosch and got him to cooperate — where A-Rod could have made a deal for a substantially shorter suspension than he ultimately received. Possibly as low as 50 games.
It was apparently not to the level of a formal offer — there aren’t documents or emails regarding this stuff — but informal conversations had begun suggesting such a framework. A-Rod and the legal team which came to represent him through the arbitration rejected the overtures, however. Major League Baseball eventually obtained the cooperation of Bosch and the settlement ship essentially sailed.
I say “essentially” because of reports in July and August — just before the 211-game suspension was announced — that A-Rod and the league were talking about a deal. But those were offers well in excess of 100 games and by that point it was worth the gamble to fight. At the same time, it’s worth remembering that, back in the spring, a 50 game suspension may not have seemed like a great deal — it was uncertain how Major League Baseball would prove its case nor was it clear that MLB had an argument or even a desire to seek more than a 50-game suspension against A-Rod in the first place. But, there was a chance for A-Rod to get back on the field after a suspension — indeed, a suspension he would have served while on the disabled list — and have it all behind him last season.
And, hindsight nor not, A-Rod, it seems, had a chance to save his baseball career. That chance came in the spring. But he blew it.