Alex Rodriguez was a no-show for yesterday’s rehab game

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On this, the thirteenth day of July, we have more gas for our Alex Rodriguez drama fire. The New York Post’s Joel Sherman is reporting that the Yankee third baseman was a no-show for yesterday’s rehab game with the Single-A Tampa Yankees. Rodriguez met with Major League Baseball officials and interrogated about his involvement with performance-enhancing drugs and Biogenesis, but according to Sherman, the session ended with time to spare prior to yesterday’s game, which was eventually postponed due to rain.

But sources say Rodriguez had enough time to get from the nearby location where he was interrogated to the park before any official word had come down about whether the game would be played or not. He was not excused by organization officials from attending the game and, in fact, the Yankees had been told by MLB the interview would be done in a timeframe to allow Rodriguez to continue his rehab games, and the meeting ended about two hours before the scheduled first pitch.

Reached by phone, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman refused to comment on whether Rodriguez was absent without permission. Rodriguez and his spokespersons did not respond to questions about why he did not go to the stadium.

In limited playing time, Rodriguez — now 37 years old — has not performed well in his rehab games. Major League Baseball is looking to suspend Rodriguez for 100 games after the All-Star break.

Mark Lerner says Nationals can’t afford both Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg

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The defending champion Washington Nationals may have to replace two star players in third baseman Anthony Rendon and starter Stephen Strasburg as both are free agents. Both are represented by agent Scott Boras and both are expected to command lucrative contracts. As a result, Nationals managing principal owner Mark Lerner said the club can’t afford to bring back both players, Todd Dybas of NBC Sports Washington reports.

Lerner told Donald Dell in an interview, “We really can only afford to have one of those two guys. They’re huge numbers. We already have a really large payroll to begin with.”

As Dybas notes, there are myriad reasons why Lerner would say this publicly. If Lerner had instead said, “Yeah, we’re filthy stinking rich, especially coming off of a World Series win. We could afford to get every free agent if we wanted to,” then the Nationals would have no leverage in negotiations. Creating artificial scarcity increases the Nationals’ leverage when negotiating with Boras and his clients. And as Dybas also points out, Lerner’s statement also prepares fans for an unsatisfactory outcome not unlike when the club took itself out of the running to bring back outfielder Bryce Harper earlier this year. This not to say Lerner’s statement is justified; it’s just how things work in the current system.

Lerner also defended the Nationals’ approach to free agency. He said, “They think you’re really back there printing money and it’s whoever goes to the highest bidder. It’s not that way at all. You give these fellas — there’s a negotiation that goes on, but…We’ve been pretty successful in free agency over time. You’re not going to get everybody. Certain players may want to go home, closer to where their home is. You never know the reason why people move on. But, we’ve been very successful. Probably one of the most successful teams in free agency the last 10 years. We’re very proud of our record. But, again, I think people have to realize, it’s not all up to us.”

It is true that the Nationals have been one of the most active teams in free agency in recent years. In a league that has otherwise done the opposite, they deserve some credit for that. But the Nationals are also keenly aware of the competitive balance tax threshold, which teams use as a de facto salary cap. They don’t have to, but they choose to because it’s a convenient structure that allows them to limit expenditures.

At the end of the day, it’s baseball’s financial structure that is rotten. It forces constant misinformation out of everyone’s mouths so as to protect their financial interests and leverage, and incentivizes teams to value profits above all. In a perfect world, MLB team owners wouldn’t need to cry poor every offseason, but we don’t live in such a world.