MLB’s claim that A-Rod sent money to Bosch’s attorney to silence him looks really shaky

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On “60 Minutes” last Sunday Rob Manfred claimed that a large payment from Alex Rodriguez to Tony Bosch’s attorney — $49,901.51 — was intended as a payoff for Bosch’s silence. When asked point blank if he thought the payment was a bribe, Rob Manfred said he did.

But go read Steve Fishman’s latest at New York Magazine. He provides pretty compelling evidence that it was nothing of the sort. Rather, it was a misdirected payment intended for A-Rod’s lawyers. Indeed, A-Rod had just been billed that exact amount by his legal team. It was misdirected to Bosch’s attorney — with whom A-Rod had been dealing with previously — and when the mistake was discovered it was promptly returned. Despite this, MLB stands by its contention that it was a bribe.

At this point this is technically academic. The suspension has been leveled and the arbitrator didn’t cite that as evidence of A-Rod’s obstruction, suggesting he didn’t buy MLB’s claim either. But it certainly stands as evidence that MLB was willing to make every possible negative inference available to it regarding Rodriguez, even if the inference wasn’t plausible. And, of course, it was a pile of such inferences that motivated MLB to suspend A-Rod for 211 games in the first place.