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.

Troy Tulowitzki held a workout for eleven clubs

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Yesterday free agent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki held a workout in California and representatives from at least eleven teams were on hand, reports Tim Brown of Yahoo. Among the clubs present: the Giants — who were said to have a “heavy presence,” including team president Farhan Zaidi and manager Bruce Bochy — the Angels, Red Sox, Cubs, Padres, White Sox, Orioles, Yankees, Phillies, Tigers and Pirates.

Your first reaction to that may be “Um, really? For Tulowitzki?” But a moment’s reflection makes it seem more sensible. We’re so tied up in thinking of a player through the filter of their contract and, when we’ve done that with Tulowitzki over the past several years, it has made him seem like an albatross given the $20 million+ a year he was earning to either not play or play rather poorly due to injuries.

It was just the contract that was the albatross, though, right? An almost free Tulowitzki — which he will be given that the Blue Jays are paying him $38 million over the next two seasons — is a different matter. If you sign him it’ll be for almost no real money and he stands a chance to be an average or maybe better-than-average shortstop, which is pretty darn valuable. You might even get one quirky late career return-to-near-glory season from him, in which case you’ve hit the lottery. If, however, as seems more likely, he just can’t get it done at all, you’re not out anything and you can cut him with little or no pain.

Eleven teams think he’s at least a look-see. I bet one of them will offer him a major league deal. Maybe more than one. He’ll probably have his pick of non-roster invites to spring training. I can’t see the downside to at least doing that much.