In an ideal Yankees world, Alex Rodriguez's appeal of his 211-games would have concluded five days after the regular season with a decision coming shortly before or after the World Series. This would have allowed the Yankees to head into November with a clear understanding of how much, if any, of A-Rod's salary would be counted toward next season's payroll.
If A-Rod's suspension, or at least 162 games of it, is upheld, the Yankees would not owe A-Rod $25 million in 2014. Plus he would not be able to hit the six homers he needs to tie Willie Mays with 660 on the all-time list, which would earn him a $6 million bonus.
If the the suspension is overturned, the Yankees will need to budget in $31 million ($25M for the base, $6M for the bonus) as they try to fall beneath Hal Steinbrenner's "serious goal" of a payroll under $189M.
The problem for the Yankees, even after concluding their organizational meetings, is that the Rodriguez appeal doesn't resume until Nov. 18 -- another three weeks from today. If it goes the full week -- and A-Rod lawyer Joe Tacopina said he expects at least five days -- then it will end on Nov. 22.
The arbitrator has 25 days from that point to render a decision, meaning it could come after the Winter Meetings (Dec. 9-12) and possibly as late as a week before Christmas, which is usually when the baseball shopping season is wrapping up.
But if A-Rod's side needs more than five days, then the timing will again come down to arbitrator Frederic Horowitz's schedule and there is no telling when the hearing would resume, let alone finish. This could guarantee the Yankees don't find out the answer until late December or even January.
Brian Cashman says that he is going about his business as if A-Rod will be an eligible player because he is not ineligible yet. Still, everyone around the Yankees know it will be much easier to figure out the $189M puzzle the sooner they know if A-Rod's money will be on the books or not.