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Winners and losers of the Alex Rodriguez arbitration decision

Jan 11, 2014, 1:47 PM EDT

This wasn’t just about A-Rod and Bud Selig going to head to head. There are a lot of winners and losers here. Some are people. Some are documents. Some are ideas and ideals. Let’s look at the immediate fallout:

Winner: Major League Baseball: The league wanted A-Rod gone through 2014 and, in all likelihood, believe that means he will be gone for good. That’s what the 211-game suspension was all about in the first place and, with the exception of those 40-some games A-Rod played last year, they’re getting what they wanted. Barring an absolute miracle, A-Rod will not see a baseball diamond until 2015.

Loser: A-Rod: Obviously. The suspension he’ll now serve is far closer to the original 211-games he was given than whatever number he either wanted or would have accepted in some sort of deal. There have been various reports regarding whether there was ever really a chance of a deal being struck, but it’s safe to say he wouldn’t have agreed to 162. He loses the 2014 season, $27.5 million and, unless he stays in great shape and convinces someone to take a chance on him in 2015, he may have played his last game as a major league baseball player.

Winner: Bud Selig: The Commissioner has tried, for many years, to declare either an end to The Steroids Era in baseball (that was the idea behind the Mitchell Report and the adoption of drug testing) or at least to put someone’s face on baseball’s performance enhancing drug problems other than his own. With nearly a year of negative headlines about A-Rod and the other Biogenesis-implicated players and now with this suspension, Alex Rodriguez will be that face. Bud Selig can and likely will declare victory here. And, deserved or not, history will agree with him.

Loser: Baseball’s Drug Testing program: At least as it was originally intended to be and as most drug testing advocates believe a good drug testing and punishment system should function. Zero tolerance. Automatic penalties. No room for human judgment or mercy or consideration. An athlete tests positive? He’s gone. For a set time that everyone knows about beforehand.  With the A-Rod decision bringing us a suspension that was clearly engineered to meet human desires (i.e. to have A-Rod gone through the end of 2014), and was clearly based on Major League Baseball’s subjective judgment of how bad A-Rod behaved as opposed to whether this was a first, second or third offense, we are in a new world. Now that baseball has seen that it can get away with suspending players longer than 50 games a long as they claim that the player was somehow uncooperative or evasive, why wouldn’t they try to do it more often?

Winner: The New York Yankees. They may not crow about it because it would look unseemly, but you can bet your life that they are jumping for joy at the Yankees offices today. That’s $27.5 million off the books for this season and, possibly, a shot at getting their payroll under $189 million, which will help them out in the luxury tax department. Even if that doesn’t happen — signing Masahiro Tanaka, for example, could kill those hopes — it’s a lot of money saved. Also: the uncertainty surrounding whether or not A-Rod can play or not is over. This is the first season in at least two, but maybe more, that the headlines shouldn’t be dominated by Alex Rodriguez.

Loser: The MLBPA: In some ways this was out of its control, as Alex Rodriguez swept aside their defense in favor of his own legal team, but this is a defeat for the union all the same. No matter how much Bud Selig denies it, there was an effort to make an example of A-Rod here, and unions exist in part to prevent that sort of thing from happening to its members. The union was basically powerless in that regard. It’s hard to see, if MLB wants to go after someone like this again, how the union can stop them.

Winner: Alex Rodriguez’s attorneys: Sure, they lost the arbitration, but they made a lot of money in the process. And got a lot of publicity. And, if A-Rod truly intends to appeal to federal court — which I believe would be foolish — they will make even more money.  Why would he do that? Because, I’m guessing, they’ve convinced a man with more money than savvy that he has a better chance than he does. Lawyers want to win, but they also want to get paid, and A-Rod money will be covering boat payments and mortgages on vacation homes for his legal team for many, many years.

  1. chacochicken - Jan 11, 2014 at 1:54 PM

    I’m thinking the arbitrator probably lost here too. A full season suspension means the MLBPA will likely fire him. If he had came back with a 100 they would be inclined to keep him.

    As for A-Rod. Here is Bud Selig’s press conference.
    http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nbc-news/53820748#53820748

    • fanofevilempire - Jan 11, 2014 at 2:02 PM

      Bud is a jack-ass!

      • bobdira - Jan 12, 2014 at 12:47 PM

        And A-Rod is a cancer. I side with a jackass.

    • jshoelessj - Jan 11, 2014 at 2:13 PM

      The arbitrator was likely getting fired by whichever side he ruled against.

      • raysfan1 - Jan 11, 2014 at 2:41 PM

        I’m betting he isn’t fired. I think Rodriguez is disliked enough within the MLBPA that they will not burn any bridges for him.

      • Glenn - Jan 11, 2014 at 2:51 PM

        You are probably correct, which makes MLB sound like a third-world dictatorship.

    • themanytoolsofignorance - Jan 12, 2014 at 8:06 AM

      I hate the Smug-Bud photo. Nothing good has happened when that one gets used.

  2. dirtydrew - Jan 11, 2014 at 2:09 PM

    Nobody cares. I just have one question…if all the best players of my childhood won’t be voted into the HOF, should I introduce my child to baseball? I mean, the stats don’t count in all the games I watched and went to. Next question is then…can I get my money back for being charged to attend a sporting event that was not real? Otherwise, put the roiders in.

    • apmn - Jan 11, 2014 at 2:20 PM

      I think you miss the point of baseball if you attend games simply to be present for the accumulation of data for statistical purposes.

      • mattapp - Jan 11, 2014 at 2:31 PM

        I think you miss the point of baseball if you honestly believe that it is anything more than any entertainment industry that does whatever it can to make the most money possible — nothing else truly matters to those who run the game.

      • anxovies - Jan 11, 2014 at 3:32 PM

        Well said. And if he teaches his children his philosophy it is doubtful that they will be successful enough in any team sport to climb to the professional level. Better to steer them to extreme skateboarding or some other sport where showboating is important.

    • indaburg - Jan 11, 2014 at 3:06 PM

      “if all the best players of my childhood won’t be voted into the HOF, should I introduce my child to baseball? ”

      Why do you confuse baseball with its museum?

    • Professor Fate - Jan 11, 2014 at 4:54 PM

      drew-

      Nine straight articles on this site alone, along with multiple comments on each thread, completely torpedoes your claim that “Nobody cares.” Beyond this particular case, the way MLB has conducted itself regarding PED punishment is a very important story for baseball overall.

      As far as the rest of your post: If your child is going to inherit your outlook on baseball then, please, don’t introduce the sport to her/him.

    • happytwinsfan - Jan 11, 2014 at 6:27 PM

      you don’t introduce your kids to baseball by going to the hall of fame, or even by taking them to a game. you do it by playing catch with them, as your dad did for you.

  3. funkymonkeybrewing - Jan 11, 2014 at 2:09 PM

    “He loses the 2014 season, $27.5 million and, unless he stays in great shape and convinces someone to take a chance on him in 2015, he may have played his last game as a major league baseball player.”

    I don’t understand this. Doesn’t he still have three years in his contact after 2014?

    • stoutfiles - Jan 11, 2014 at 2:13 PM

      The thought is there is too much bad blood now for the Yankees to being in an angry 40 year old and expect good numbers and for him to not kill team chemistry.

    • cackalackyank - Jan 11, 2014 at 2:16 PM

      There are those that believe that once eligible again the NYY will “cut him”. That will cost the NYY @60 million bucks. I do not believe this will happen.

    • paperlions - Jan 11, 2014 at 2:23 PM

      Yeah, that comment makes no sense. He is signed through 2017. He doesn’t have to convince anyone to take a chance on him. If the Yankees waive him, they’ll be paying him $61M to do nothing. If that happens, he probably won’t play for another team, especially with MLB’s ability to black ball players and no one ever calling them out for it.

      Bonds put up a 157 wRC+ his last season (that is better than Frank Thomas’ career average of 154), and no team would offer him any contract, even when he offered to play for the minimum. People would love to say that Bonds was a club house cancer, but that simply wasn’t true. His team mates generally liked him just fine (they preferred him to Jeff Kent). No one will ever convince me that no team was willing to extend such a player an offer, especially an AL team where he could DH.

      • anxovies - Jan 11, 2014 at 3:35 PM

        “They preferred him to Jeff Kent” is hardly a rousing endorsement of Bond’s teammates for him. :)

      • happytwinsfan - Jan 11, 2014 at 6:31 PM

        he not only offered to play for the minimum, he offered to donate that to a charity fund which would buy tickets for low income kids.

    • djpostl - Jan 11, 2014 at 2:31 PM

      Reading comprehension people. Doesn’t say he won’t be paid the balance, just says he may not play another game, which is reasonable to expect.

      The Yankees owe him no matter what so if he isn’t viewed as an asset on the field they have no reason to keep the cancer around.

      At his age, with his lack of production and his baggage about the only offers he’d get would be an invitation to spring training and a league minimum-ish deal.

      This guy is 100% about ego. No way he takes that deal.

      • bigbuffguy95 - Jan 11, 2014 at 4:04 PM

        Our reading comprehension is fine. The article is either unintentionally or intentionally misleading. Calcaterra makes it sound like A-Rod is an unsigned free agent, when in reality, the Yankees still owe him about $60 million over three years. I don’t think even the Yankees can just afford to take a financial hit that big without at least seeing if he can still play. And even if they do waive him, there’s a decent chance that some cash-strapped franchise may be willing to take a flier on him for the league minimum or thereabouts.

    • brewer3 - Jan 11, 2014 at 2:46 PM

      Why wouldn’t the Marlins pick him up? They’d only have to pay him the minimum, and they don’t care about who they trot out there as long as they are cheap.

      • mazblast - Jan 11, 2014 at 10:28 PM

        That’s exactly what I was thinking. Local “hero”, MLB minimum wage, and a cheap-o owner who already knows there’s nothing he can do that will get Bud or his successor to do the right thing, namely invoke ‘the best interests of baseball” clause and order his a** to sell the team.

  4. stoutfiles - Jan 11, 2014 at 2:12 PM

    The cheating punishment is too weak as it is. Cheat till you get that big contract…if you get caught it’s just 50 games. Big deal.

  5. schlom - Jan 11, 2014 at 2:14 PM

    Winners: Sanctimonious sportswriters

    Losers: Everyone else

  6. nsstlfan - Jan 11, 2014 at 2:19 PM

    Arbitrators aren’t people who are hired and fired they are of independent council appointed by the government and both sides put money in a pot to pay them

    • paperlions - Jan 11, 2014 at 2:26 PM

      Not in this case. MLB arbitrators only serve for as long as BOTH MLB and MLBPA approve of his/her appointment. The arbitrator can be dismissed for any reason by either side.

    • djpostl - Jan 11, 2014 at 2:32 PM

      Not here. Kind of like jury strikes, either side can choose to have them removed from the pool.

    • anxovies - Jan 11, 2014 at 3:41 PM

      Arbitrators are selected and paid by the parties, the government has nothing to do with private arbitrators. Even in court ordered arbitrations the parties select the arbitrator(s) unless the parties are unable to agree on the selection.

  7. cackalackyank - Jan 11, 2014 at 2:21 PM

    I think there is at least one other winner. The FA infielder that the NYY now have to sign. In fact any FA that can play 3B and possibly some 1B and 2B on occasion just saw their financial fortunes take a positive turn.

  8. Panda Claus - Jan 11, 2014 at 2:43 PM

    Losers: AL East opponents now that the Yankees could be willing to reallocate some of ARod’s $24.3M salary to other players.

    • Glenn - Jan 11, 2014 at 2:54 PM

      Still hard to understand why A-Rod’s salary doesn’t count against the cap. The Yankees benefited from his cheating, they should also suffer for it.

      • zackd2 - Jan 11, 2014 at 3:13 PM

        Same with brewers, tigers and rangers. Not just the Yankees, all teams financially benefit from suspensions

    • Reflex - Jan 11, 2014 at 3:17 PM

      I think the Yankees are the bigger loser here. While A-Rod is certainly diminished from his prime, there is nothing the Yanks can buy that will replace his numbers at third and do so for only one season until A-Rod is back on the payroll.

      Their offense just took a serious hit. As diminished as he is, he’s still one of the better 3B’s in the game.

    • mikhelb - Jan 11, 2014 at 3:17 PM

      In 2013 they had millions available from Teixeira’s injury in the WBC and they got… Vernon Wells.

      • cackalackyank - Jan 11, 2014 at 3:35 PM

        By the time Tex got hurt it was @ half way through spring training, not a month before pitchers and catchers report. Also, there just aren’t that many good players making it to FA these day. Add to it the fact that these are one year gigs to fill in for an injured or suspended player and there is a lack of takers among the remaining options.

  9. rangermania - Jan 11, 2014 at 2:52 PM

    The Yankees should send him to the minors where he can possibly put up some respectable numbers and not eat up any bonuses on their active roster. That would probably cause him to file another lawsuit but being awol they wouldn’t have to pay him. He might bail out. ARod is toast.

  10. chip56 - Jan 11, 2014 at 3:20 PM

    Craig,

    You might want to check the facts on the JDA. Tom Verducci was just on MLB Network saying that the 50/100/150 scale applies only to failed tests. Suspensions for non-analytical positives such as this are at the discretion of the commish.

    • bigbuffguy95 - Jan 11, 2014 at 3:59 PM

      Is that true? If so, that seems like a loophole that the players union should insist on closing in the next round of CBA negotiations.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jan 11, 2014 at 4:44 PM

      That’s the position MLB took and the position that the arbitrator validated, but it’s not stated anywhere in the JDA or CBA. This ruling basically establishes that rule. It never existed before.

      • chip56 - Jan 11, 2014 at 8:01 PM

        I’m all for setting precedent. My guess is that the union will be fine with it. When you consider some of the comments we heard last summer and earlier this winter when it came to the biogenesis guys (and the complete lack of players taking up for Alex today) I think harsher penalties will actually go over pretty well.

  11. anxovies - Jan 11, 2014 at 3:46 PM

    ARod may come back in 2015, just to prove a point, but I doubt that he will stick around for the rest of his contract unless he does well. He has a lot of pride and made a lot of money from his salary and investments and I doubt if he will sit on the bench for 2 more years.

  12. Jason @ IIATMS - Jan 11, 2014 at 4:00 PM

    Was there any doubt that the SMUG BUD picture was going to be used here? I say no.

    • bobb12901 - Jan 11, 2014 at 4:31 PM

      that bud is a piece we all know crap to run baseball a former owner never should be allowed to run baseball the hair is enough to know that he is wrapped

  13. therealcoop - Jan 11, 2014 at 4:57 PM

    What the writer is not understanding is that in the legal word it’s not always about the quick win. Alex’s team has gotten the numbers knocked down just slightly. Now if they can continue this in each round of the appeal he, MLBPA and the attorneys will be the winner.

    • blynch67 - Jan 11, 2014 at 5:10 PM

      What you’re not understanding is that the writer IS an attorney.

      • stercuilus65 - Jan 11, 2014 at 9:37 PM

        Not a very good one or he would still be practicing…

      • mazblast - Jan 11, 2014 at 10:32 PM

        stercuilus,

        We don’t know if Craig was a good, bad, or indifferent attorney. Perhaps he was good enough but decided he’d rather be a human being.

  14. bbk1000 - Jan 11, 2014 at 5:07 PM

    Nice face on the Selig there…I wonder if he just soiled himself?

  15. blynch67 - Jan 11, 2014 at 5:15 PM

    As much as I despise A-Rod, and I think 162 is a fair punishment, there is no denying that the Yankees are a weaker team now. That’s true on both sides of the ball: offense and defense.

    I don’t have any idea who will play 3rd, and I have no idea how that Yanks will replace those 25 homers and 75 – 100 rbi this season.

  16. chip56 - Jan 11, 2014 at 5:52 PM

    I would add another group to the “winners,” the contingent of players who have been public in their support of stricter standards and harsher penalties.

  17. disgracedfury - Jan 11, 2014 at 5:56 PM

    Well just like the story of Frankenstein Bud Selig has killed his creation. Selig and the owners have made so much money off of PED users and now they just threw all there players under the bus and are acting like heroes.

    This website just like the MLB Network are kissing MLB’s @$$ and have no worry that MLB went so far as have a investigator have sex with a BioGenesis ex employee and also left money in a paper bag to be picked up by drug dealers at a location amoung other things.

    A-Rod got what was coming to him but he is taking on the the burden of that 2003 list,MLB not getting Clemens or Bonds and the rest of the PED users(Like WS MVP Ortiz)

  18. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Jan 11, 2014 at 5:58 PM

    Earth to Craig

    MLB can only add extra time if a player lies about his involvement which is part of CBA. the player has the right to challenge this through arbitration. So it is hardly that MBL can do it whenever it feels like it. ARod must have told some whoppers for the arbitrator to say 112 extra games was appropriate.
    The message is crystal clear to MLB players if you get caught tell the truth, lie at the risk of taking at extra hit in the wallet. And if don’t want that way make sure it is spelled out that way in the CBA.

  19. righthandofjustice - Jan 11, 2014 at 8:42 PM

    When you look at the big picture this A-Rod suspension is only a spiritual victory to MLB and Selig. Many people know the MLB “involvement” in this Biogenesis investigation is just a show to hopefully get the monkey by the name of Novitzky off their backs. Too bad for Selig and MLB, not matter if A-Rod is not suspended or given a lifetime suspension I bet the government will keep investigation them thoroughly.

    The Yankees don’t seem to be winners in the long run neither. They may save some money from A-Rod’s salary but they are likely to draw less fans to either cheer or boo A-Rod, and no matter who to get from the remaining players in the market to play third base while A-Rod is out they will be a weaker team on the field.

    Randy Levine may be a winner if he really gets 8.5% of the money saved from the A-Rod suspension but don’t bank on it now since G-men will be highly likely looking all over it.

  20. mazblast - Jan 11, 2014 at 10:34 PM

    If the Yankees pay a lower luxury tax due to not having to pay Roidboy, wouldn’t that make the teams that receive the luxury tax money losers?

  21. bigbluenationdb - Jan 11, 2014 at 11:01 PM

    MLB launched a witch hunt on ARod. I am not defending ARod at all but Selig wanted him to go down like this. The same commissioner that let steroids into the game and save baseball is the same commissioner now wanting guys banned.

  22. jayquintana - Jan 12, 2014 at 7:22 AM

    Easier said then done, but the Yankees should just eat the $61 million and be done with A-Rod.

  23. Bar None - Jan 12, 2014 at 12:18 PM

    I think a point that is missed here is that the original suspension wasn’t 100% a drug suspension. It was also for obstructing MLB’s investigation. I think it sends a message to players to A) not trying an artificially gain an advantage (which, I feel like most players are on board with now) and B) if you do, you have to pay your consequences.

  24. peddealer - Jan 12, 2014 at 8:10 PM

    You know who really won? My wallet!!!

    A. Bosch

  25. yordo - Jan 13, 2014 at 3:37 PM

    Winner: HBT. Let’s have 50 posts on this item.

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