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Report: MLB could suspend Alex Rodriguez under CBA rather than drug agreement

Jul 29, 2013, 10:05 PM EDT

New York Yankees' Rodriguez speaks with reporters following his rehab assignment for Tampa Yankees in a minor league baseball game against Bradenton Marauders in Tampa Reuters

The clock is ticking for Alex Rodriguez, as MLB is soon expected to announce a suspension for his alleged involvement with Biogenesis. But it could be unlike anything we were expecting.

According to the Associated Press, MLB could suspend Rodriguez under the collective bargaining agreement rather than the regular drug rules. This is potentially huge, as it would prevent him from playing if he appeals a suspension. Here’s what MLB could be thinking.

While use of banned performance-enhancing substances falls under the drug agreement, MLB may argue other alleged violations are punishable under the labor contract, a person familiar with management’s deliberations told the AP, speaking on condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized.

Taking that action would prevent the New York Yankees third baseman from returning to the field, even if he recovers from a quadriceps injury cited by the team as the reason for keeping him on the disabled list.

And merely threatening to use that provision might give MLB leverage to force a deal.

The report states that Rodriguez could be banned under Article XII B of the Basic Agreement, which states: “Players may be disciplined for just cause for conduct that is materially detrimental or materially prejudicial to the best interests of baseball including, but not limited to, engaging in conduct in violation of federal, state or local law.”

Yes, the “best interests of baseball” clause. If Rodriguez is suspended under that section, he would serve the penalty while a grievance is litigated. And as we heard from A-Rod’s lawyer earlier today, they have every intention to fight. The union would almost certainly fight it tooth and nail too, even if the evidence against Rodriguez is extensive. If they don’t, the drug agreement is basically rendered worthless. And you thought this was ugly before? We could be looking at a protracted and messy legal battle here.

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