THURSDAY MARCH 30, 2017
 
Blog THROWIN SMOKE
A-ROD'S MESSY DIVORCE
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The Mexican standoff between the New York Yankees and slugger Alex Rodriguez has officially reached scorched-earth proportions. At this point there will be no winner, only varying degrees of loss.

Rodriguez says that he’s ready to play and resume earning the $114 million and five years left on his contract following off-season hip surgery. The Yankees say the slugger has an injured quad and is in no position to return to the lineup.

In truth, Yankees GM Brian Cashman is trying to buy time until Major League Baseball starts levying suspensions in the Biogenesis steroid case. Rodriguez, who previously admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs over a decade ago with the Texas Rangers, is expected to be the crown jewel of the case, and could be facing anywhere from a 100-game suspension to a lifetime ban for his part.

If Rodriguez is on the disabled list when the suspensions come down, his contract could be voided.

But thanks to a loophole in the MLB players’ association contract, Rodriguez can actually skirt the entire affair should he play a single big-league game and retire immediately after the final out. He would then not only avoid getting named in the Biogenesis case – because he would no longer be an active player – but also earn the full $114 million remaining on his contract, because the money is guaranteed.

Despite signing A-Rod to an absurd 10-year, $275 million contract just five years ago, Cashman and the Yankees never want to see him in pinstripes again. His skills have steadily declined every year, to a point during last year’s playoffs that an 0-for-18 skid against right-handed pitchers led to him being benched in favour of decrepit journeyman Raul Ibanez.

Rodriguez, for his part, is probably ready to ride off into the sunset too, but not without his money.

This isn’t the first time the Yankees have been involved in a messy separation with one of their players.

Back in 1981, star outfielder Reggie Jackson – the self-proclaimed “straw that stirs the drink” – got into a public battle with then-owner George Steinbrenner over a new contract. After the Yankees lost the last three games of the ’81 World Series, Jackson signed as a free agent with the California Angels.

Steinbrenner also publicly feuded with outfielder Dave Winfield, to a point in 1990 that the bombastic owner hired a private investigator to expose embarrassing information about the 12-time All-Star. When the plot was exposed in the press, Steinbrenner was banned from running the team and Winfield was traded to the California Angels, where he subsequently won the Comeback Player of the Year Award.

When the Yankees signed Rodriguez back in 2008, they expected the salary cap to grow exponentially and even negotiated a clause in his deal where they would own the marketing rights to his pursuit of Barry Bonds’ 762 career home runs. Instead, the 38-year-old has had a total of 34 dingers over the past two years and is stuck at 647.

Even if he isn’t suspended for steroids, there’s no chance Rodriguez will get anywhere close to Bonds’s mark, let alone give fair value for the $22 million a year he’s still owed under his current deal.

The Biogenesis suspensions could be handed down as early as this week. If named, Rodriguez can accept, appeal or negotiate his penalty. There are many twists left in this tale.

Where we won’t see him is on the field with the Yankees.

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