I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I don’t believe that MLB’s discipline of Alex Rodriguez is specifically designed to get the Yankees out from under their contract obligations to him and save them from their awful mistake of promising him all of that money they agreed to give him before the 2008 season.
But man, it sure is a stroke of good fortune for the Yankees! Buck Showalter agrees:
Getting Rodriguez’s $25 million salary off their 2014 books would effectively reset a Yankees payroll projected to exceed a $189 million luxury tax threshold the club hoped to slip under. And if they’re freed from the $86 million owed Rodriguez from 2014 to ’17? Showalter fears Commissioner Bud Selig’s zeal to ban Rodriguez might turn the Yankees into free agent predators again.
“If Bud lets them get away with that, they’re under the luxury tax,” Showalter told USA TODAY Sports. “If they can reset, they can spend again and I guarantee you in two years Matt Wieters is in New York.”
That’s ridiculous. Why would the Yankees wait two years to use A-Rod money to sign Matt Wieters when they can simply sign Brian McCann this winter?
But in all seriousness: intended or not, let no one pretend that this Biogenesis business won’t be a boon to the Yankees.
So much for a last-minute, nail-biting finish to this division race. The Braves cemented their division title with a dominant 5-3 finish over the Phillies on Saturday, laying claim to the NL East title for the first time since 2013.
The Braves asserted themselves right off the bat after amassing a four-run lead from Johan Camargo and Freddie Freeman, both of whom cleared the bases with two-run singles in the first two innings. Ronald Acuna Jr., meanwhile, found another way to make his presence known after swiping his 15th stolen base of the year and joining Alex Rodriguez, Orlando Cepeda, and Mike Trout as one of the youngest players to collect at least 25 home runs and 15 stolen bags in major league history.
Not to be outdone, Atlanta right-hander Mike Foltynewicz delivered one of the strongest starts of his season to date. The righty set down six innings of no-hit ball against the Phillies, and, with just 62 pitches under his belt, looked ready to go the distance before he lost his bid on Odubel Herrera‘s leadoff single in the seventh.
Unfortunately for the Braves, the Phillies not only upended Foltynewicz’s no-hit attempt, but the shutout as well. In the eighth inning, Cesar Hernandez and Rhys Hoskins wrestled two RBI singles from Atlanta’s bullpen and brought Philadelphia within one run of tying the game. Hoskins was the last Phillies batter to reach base, however, as Jonny Venters and Arodys Vizcaino tossed a combined 1 2/3 scoreless innings (backed by a final RBI hit from Kurt Suzuki in the bottom of the eighth) to cap the Braves’ win — and the NL East title.
With the loss, the Phillies sit seven games back of a wild card spot in the National League. They’ll need to outpace the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Cardinals in order to make 2018 their first postseason-qualifying year since 2011.