What happens next in the A-Rod saga?

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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.

Yasmani Grandal signs a four-year, $73 million deal with the White Sox

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The first truly big free agent signing of the offseason has gone down: the Chicago White Sox just announced that they have signed catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million deal.

Grandal, 31, was the best catcher available in free agency. He is coming off a fine year with the Milwaukee Brewers, with whom he had to settle for a one-year pact in 2019. He hit .246/.380/.468 with 28 homers and 77 driven in. It was his fourth straight season with 20+ homers. While his catching has been criticized due to some high-profile mistakes in the postseason, the two-time All-Star once again proved himself to be one of the best pitch-framers in the game if not the best. Between the bat and the glove he has a claim to being one of the best all-around catchers in baseball.

The signing leaves open the question of what happens to James McCann, who was himself an All-Star this year. It’s not that hard a question, of course, as Grandal is a far superior catcher to McCann in every respect. The Sox could make McCann a backup. Alternatively, they could try to trade him to fill other holes on the roster.

The White Sox finished 72-89 in 2019 but are showing signs of coming out of rebuilding mode and into contention mode. This signing pushes them a big step into that direction.