As chief operating officer of his own multimillion dollar company, Alex Rodriguez Inc., A-Rod prefers to hear sweet nothings rather than hard realities.
"If Alex doesn't hear what he wants to hear, he fires people," a person who has been in A-Rod's inner circle told ESPN New York.
Since Biogenesis broke, Rodriguez has kept the transaction wires moving. He has had two public relation firms and three lawyers in the past six months. For PR, A-Rod is now with Ron Berkowitz, who is best-known for his work with Jay Z's Roc Nation. For a lawyer, A-Rod has moved on to David Cornwell, who is known for getting Ryan Braun's failed drug test thrown out on a procedural red flag.
Rodriguez has not publicly revealed his version of his relationship with alleged PED peddler Anthony Bosch. Through A-Rod's various PR reps, he has denied any involvement. A source has told ESPN New York that MLB thinks it has more linking A-Rod to Bosch than it had to link Braun to Bosch; others have also reported this. Braun cut a deal and is on the hook for a 65-game suspension.
Before Braun ever made the agreement with MLB, he left Cornwell. Cornwell fought with MLB and, in his only comments about the Biogenesis case, the lawyer told USA Today that MLB has been "despicable" in how it has built its case.
MLB executive VP Rob Manfred struck back by saying to the paper, "At the conclusion of this investigation we hope that there will be a full airing of what we have learned about what Mr. Cornwell and his clients have done so that the public can decide who has behaved despicably, unethically and illegally."
If A-Rod is looking for the best deal possible from MLB, is Cornwell the guy to have in your corner? Cornwell, who did not return a call seeking comment, is known as a pugnacious lawyer or, as one person who knows his style well put it, "a bulldog." Rodriguez may want to fight it out to preserve as much of the remaining $100 million he is owed through 2017.
Previously, Rodriguez had hired famed Miami lawyer Roy Black and the highly respected but low-profile Jay Reisinger working the case. Reisinger is best-known for limiting the damage for Sammy Sosa, Andy Pettitte and A-Rod. When the Tony Galea allegations occurred, Reisinger orchestrated the process in such a way that the publicity was limited. There was never even a photo of Rodriguez heading in to see the feds.
MLB is clearly trying to ratchet up the pressure. The threat of a lifetime ban has been floated out there, but it is likely more a negotiating position than a reality. With A-Rod having never failed a drug test or been suspended by baseball, it is hard to imagine that MLB could be on solid ground giving Rodriguez the Pete Rose treatment. Rodriguez and MLB would be headed to the courts for a long time. It is doubtful MLB would want that situation hanging over the game for so long.
Cornwell would probably welcome the fight.
But if MLB threatens Rodriguez with a lifetime ban, it could possibly get him to accept the largest penalty possible, which could mean 100-150 games. With his 38th birthday on Saturday and two surgically repaired hips, that could effectively end Rodriguez's career.
Going on the assumption that Rodriguez ends up with a suspension of 50 to 150 games, the Yankees may still try to void the rest of his contract. Though it would be hard to accomplish, the Yankees may have nothing to lose by trying.
A-Rod's choice of lawyers is like musical chairs. The music is currently stopped on Cornwell, which might mean A-Rod wants to swing for the fences.