Skip to content

The new PED evidence is sexy, but they can’t void A-Rod’s contract, and probably can’t even suspend him. Yet.

Jan 29, 2013, 9:35 AM EDT

a-rod getty wide Getty Images

UPDATE:  I missed this on my first reading of the JDA, but Section G provides for suspensions by the Commissioner for “just cause.”

A Player may be subjected to disciplinary action for just cause by the
Commissioner for any Player violation of Section 2 above not referenced in Section 7.A
through 7.F above.

The question, then, is what constitutes “just cause.” While I think this would give MLB some justification to attempt to move, I stand by what I said below: there would be significant pushback on whether this news report is “just cause,” and A-Rod or others would fight any action based on it alone.  This will require greater evidence and information, and likely someone — be it the players or the doctors who prescribed or someone else — to put more meat on the bones of this report.

9:35 AMThe Miami New Times story implicating A-Rod, Nelson Cruz and others with a PED clinic in Miami is big news. It sheds a lot of light on PED use by major players and the overall availability of PEDs in baseball.  The pipelines like BALCO and now Biogenesis are a pretty big deal, and they’re certainly something MLB has an interest in investigating and news organizations should have an interest in reporting.

But let’s be clear about one thing: this news should not and likely will not have any direct, immediate bearing on A-Rod or any of the other players named as far as immediate discipline.

The Joint Drug Agreement (“JDA”) provides one means and one means only for suspensions: positive drug tests.  Now, those drug tests can be scheduled or random. Or they can be instituted based on “reasonable cause.” From page 12 of the JDA:

In the event that either Party has information that gives it reasonable cause
to believe that a Player has, in the previous 12-month period, engaged in the use,
possession, sale or distribution of a Performance Enhancing Substance (including
hGH) or Stimulant, the Party shall provide the other Party, either orally or in
writing, with a description of its information (“Reasonable Cause Notification”),
and the Player will be subject to an immediate urine and/or blood specimen
collection, or a program of testing, as determined by the IPA, to commence no
later than 48 hours after the Reasonable Cause Notification was provided.

Nowhere in the JDA does it provide for suspensions or any other kind of discipline based purely on non-testing evidence like reports, tips or the like.  What’s more, there is an appeal process involved where the player subject to reasonable cause testing can dispute whether there was, in fact, reasonable cause.

As this relates to A-Rod, Nelson Cruz and the others named in the report: MLB could very well demand a drug test from them within 48 hours of learning this information (and remember we don’t know whether MLB is learning this today or knew already).  That’s it.  If I’m representing those players, though, I argue strongly that a newspaper report like this is not “reasonable cause” and make an arbitrator figure that out.  That’s how it would play out.

What will not happen is MLB summarily suspending any of these players, the Yankees voiding A-Rod’s contract or anything else.  Such steps would be outside the scope of the league or the team’s power and it would result in major litigation.

Against that backdrop, if anyone — like, say, a columnist or reporter who wants to pile on A-Rod — starts beating the “void the contract” or “suspend him for life” drum in the next couple of days, they’re full of it or they’re being emotional or they’re grandstanding and no matter which of those it is, they should not be taken seriously.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Yankees talking to Padres about a deal for Ian Kennedy

    Jul 24, 2014, 11:19 PM EDT

    f9709064dc0d3dbba119326284ff6ded AP

    The Yankees are reportedly considering a reunion with right-hander Ian Kennedy.

  2. Jonathan Papelbon to Phillies fans: Bring on the boos

    Jul 24, 2014, 11:18 PM EDT

    201b75e51f895253777b6c9537344e55 Getty Images

    Jonathan Papelbon was booed by Phillies fans this afternoon, but it didn’t bother him. In fact, he says bring it on.

  3. The Astros are hesitant to trade Chad Qualls

    Jul 24, 2014, 10:20 PM EDT

    Chad Qualls Getty Getty Images

    Chad Qualls quietly owns a 1.78 ERA this season. The Astros are reluctant to deal him.

  4. Picture of the Day: Dallas Keuchel has a clever message for a heckler

    Jul 24, 2014, 9:25 PM EDT

    Dallas Keuchel AP AP

    Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel tossed a baseball to a heckler during today’s game against the Athletics. And the ball contained a clever message.

  5. MLBPA files grievance against Astros in regard to draft pick situation

    Jul 24, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

    astros logo

    When the Astros failed to agree to terms with No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken earlier this month, many speculated that the next step would be a grievance against the team from the MLBPA. That’s exactly what has happened.

  6. The Mariners are interested in Drew Stubbs

    Jul 24, 2014, 7:35 PM EDT

    Drew Stubbs Getty Getty Images

    The Mariners brought back Kendrys Morales in a deal with the Twins today, but they aren’t done attempting to upgrade.

  7. Report: Phillies “working hard” to trade Ryan Howard

    Jul 24, 2014, 7:09 PM EDT

    Ryan Howard AP AP

    The Phillies appear ready to move on from Ryan Howard.

  8. Yankees acquire left-hander Chris Capuano from the Rockies

    Jul 24, 2014, 6:31 PM EDT

    Chris Capuano Getty Getty Images

    Yankees general manager Brian Cashman continues to stay busy.

  9. Zach Putnam lands on disabled list with shoulder inflammation

    Jul 24, 2014, 6:13 PM EDT

    Zach Putnam AP

    Zach Putnam has had a share of the closer role with the White Sox in recent weeks, but now he’s headed to the 15-day disabled list due to right shoulder inflammation.

  10. Fractured fibula likely to keep Astros prospect Carlos Correa from Arizona Fall League

    Jul 24, 2014, 5:47 PM EDT

    Carlos Correa AP

    Before the injury Correa was having an excellent season, hitting .325 with 20 steals in 62 games at high Single-A as a 19-year-old.

  11. Ryan Howard does not seem too happy about platooning

    Jul 24, 2014, 5:32 PM EDT

    ryan howard getty Getty Images

    It’s been bad in Philly. Is it starting to get ugly?

  12. Masahiro Tanaka “is still reporting discomfort in his elbow”

    Jul 24, 2014, 5:10 PM EDT

    Masahiro Tanaka AP AP

    Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka is supposed to rest for six weeks before doctors determine if he needs Tommy John elbow surgery, but 10 days into the process things aren’t going well.

  13. The eyes have it: Thomas’ greatness built on patience

    Jul 24, 2014, 4:20 PM EDT

    140724-frank-thomas-1000 Getty Images

    Frank Thomas is headed to the Hall of Fame thanks to his legendary batting eye.

  14. Expert’s Corner: How to troll fans of all 30 teams

    Jul 24, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT

    Sad Phillies fans

    Everyone has a gift. This is my gift. I shall now share it with you.

  15. Chuck Knoblauch arrested, accused of assaulting ex-wife

    Jul 24, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Chuck Knoblauch

    According to K-HOU television in Houston the 46-year-old Knoblauch has been charged with assault of a family member, Cheri Knoblauch, whom he divorced in 2012.

  16. Mariners re-acquire Kendrys Morales from Twins for Stephen Pryor

    Jul 24, 2014, 2:51 PM EDT

    Kendrys-Morales-Twins Getty Images

    Kendrys Morales had a good first week for the Twins after sitting out the first two months of the season and then signing a one-year, $7.5 million deal in June, but he’s been horrendous since then while hitting .209 with one homer and a .524 OPS in 33 games.

  17. Are the Dodgers about to dump Dan Haren?

    Jul 24, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT

    Dan Haren Dodgers AP

    Dan Haren finished last season strong for the Nationals, signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Dodgers this offseason, and got off to a nice start in Los Angeles.

  18. HBT Daily: La Russa, Torre and Cox to be inducted on Sunday

    Jul 24, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    HBT Daily Logo

    And it provides us with an opportunity to think about what it means to be a Hall of Fame manager.

Featured video

Managers get easier path to Cooperstown
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. H. Street (3409)
  2. T. Tulowitzki (2819)
  3. C. Headley (2745)
  4. Y. Puig (2637)
  5. H. Ramirez (2619)
  1. B. Belt (2432)
  2. C. Lee (2429)
  3. R. Howard (2376)
  4. A. Rios (2124)
  5. M. Trout (2080)