Arbitrator Frederic Horowitz is expected to hand down his ruling in Alex Rodriguez's appeal case any day now -- it could seriously come at any moment at this point -- but that doesn't mean the legal war is over. According to the New York Daily News, A-Rod could ask a judge for an injunction if Horowitz's ruling is not to his liking.
The sources say they believe Rodriguez's attorneys will ask a judge to issue an injunction that would allow the embattled superstar to report to the Yankees' spring training camp next month and play when the 2014 season begins while Team A-Rod attempts to have the suspension linked to the Biogenesis drug scandal overturned in court.
“The papers are all ready,” one source said. “They are just waiting for the announcement.”
Rodriguez's lawyers will likely claim that the unprecedented suspension violates federal labor law because the arbitration process was unfair and biased against A-Rod.
“They would have to argue about the length and that the arbitrator exceeded the duties within his purview,” said Robert Boland, the academic chairman of New York University's Tisch Center for Sports Management.
Rodriguez's camp has hinted at further legal action pretty much since the start of the Biogenesis scandal. They filed a lawsuit against commissioner Bud Selig and MLB back in October, stating their investigation was a "witch hunt" and both unethical and illegal. The league's investigation did hinder an official Department of Health investigation at one point.
It's unclear what would qualify as an unfair ruling in Rodriguez's book, but the Daily News report says he would be willing to accept a 65-game ban (or less) peacefully.
Rodriguez attorney Joe Tacopina famously stated last year that his client does not deserve to be suspended for “one inning,” but the sources say the Yankee third baseman would likely accept a suspension of 65 games or less without a fight. The legal fees to combat a 65-game ban would likely cost Rodriguez, who is scheduled to earn $25 million in 2014, more than he would lose in salary.
A 65-game suspension would match Ryan Braun's. Both he and A-Rod were considered the primary targets in MLB's investigation because they were effectively viewed as repeat offenders even though they could not be penalized as such. Braun successfully appealed his suspension during the 2011-12 offseason and A-Rod admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs with the Rangers from 2001-03, before the Joint Drug Agreement was in place.
Sixty-five games would be something of a win for A-Rod. He is currently facing a 211-game ban that is essentially broken down into the 50-game penalty for first-time offenders and 161 games for allegedly interfering with the investigation. The 65-game suspension isn't all that likely, however.
“It's a completely different case,” said the source, referring to Bosch's testimony against Rodriguez, which is believed to include accounts of serious drug use over several years, involving multiple substances and code words for drugs used in voluminous text messages, even injections. “Braun is accused of using a lozenge and a cream for a limited time. And he came forward. It seems silly to compare a guy who accepted responsibility for his actions and admitted what he did and took the punishment, to a guy who is in total denial and is suing everybody in sight.”
One way or another, Horowitz's ruling should come relatively soon. Hopefully within the next week because I think we're all sick of hearing about this by now. Either way, A-Rod isn't going away quietly. He's either going to seek the injunction or return to the field sometime around midseason.
The Yankees need a third baseman and, given the available options, Rodriguez is probably their best solution even though he's been trending downward for years. I'm guessing they'd be happy with an inferior third baseman if it meant washing their hands of A-Rod, however.