Let's go over some burning questions regarding Alex Rodriguez's suspension.
Will A-Rod be at spring training?
A-Rod's spokesman, Ron Berkowitz, confirmed ESPN New York's report from earlier on Saturday that Rodriguez plans on being at spring training. Rodriguez is banned for the 2014 regular season and the postseason, not spring training. So Rodriguez is allowed to be in Tampa in the middle of February when the Yankees begin to prepare for the season.
Why would the Yankees let him do that, if he isn't going to play?
It is not their choice. Under the Joint Drug Agreement and the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Team A-Rod's understanding is that Rodriguez can be there. The Yankees will not want him there, so they and MLB could try to work around it. But it seems the CBA is on A-Rod's side here.
The Yankees could cut Rodriguez to prevent this from happening, but they would have to pay him the remaining $61 million they owe him.
Why would A-Rod want to be there?
Well, his side is going to seek an injunction, which they hope can prevent the suspension. Most people don't think that is likely, however if they do get an injunction, A-Rod needs to be ready to play.
Can the Yankees buy out A-Rod's contract?
He has no incentive to discuss a buyout. His contract is guaranteed. They could cut him, but they have to pay him in full. They could try to sue A-Rod, but that would be difficult to win.
What are his chances to win an injunction blocking the suspension?
Most law experts don't give it much of a chance. Our own Roger Cossack said slim and none. Judges don't like to mess with independent arbitrators' decisions in collectively bargained agreements.
Can A-Rod play elsewhere during the suspension?
If he wanted to, A-Rod can't play in Japan, Taiwan or South Korea, because they honor MLB suspensions. He could possibly play for an Independent League team in the States, but I wouldn't bet on it.
@AndrewMarchand where exactly is team relative to 189? Benefits and all
— K_Boy (@K_Boy) January 11, 2014
The Yankees are saving Rodriguez's $25 million salary, meaning they have a little more than $151 million in commitments to 13 players. The New York Post has a nice tracker and reports that A-Rod's luxury-tax savings are actually a little more than $22 million, not $25 million.
The $151 million includes all the insurance, etc., that is used in calculating the luxury tax. The Yankees have several arbitration eligible players, including Brett Gardner, so that will take up another $17 million to $20 million. The Yankees still may sign Mark Reynolds, Michael Young or Masahiro Tanaka. So, in other words, it could be very close.
But, with that said, even if they are above the $189 million threshold and are at, say, $200 million, they will save a lot of money because their luxury-tax number last year was $237 million. So they could save tens of millions from season to season, even if they are above $189 million.
If they do fall below $189 million, they will see their tax rate shrink from 50 percent to 12.5 percent. Teams are taxed on the money they spend above $189 million.
So, the Yankees have a chance, but, however you look at it, they just save about $25 million.
@AndrewMarchand Do they make a trade for a third baseman, or go with what they have?
— Mike I (@mikeimbriano) January 11, 2014
I went through this earlier. Reynolds or Young platooning with Kelly Johnson seems most likely. Here is the blog post.
@AndrewMarchand Do you think A-Rod ever plays for the Yanks again?
— Derek Ambrose (@DAmbrose12) January 11, 2014
Even after the suspension, they owe him $61 million over the next three years. That is a lot of money to eat. The Yankees could try to sue Rodriguez and go after that money, but it is guaranteed and it would be hard to win such a case.
Still, I find it hard to believe he'll play for the Yankees again, but some thought he wouldn't play last year and he did -- so who knows?
@AndrewMarchand any chance yanks go crazy sign Tanaka, Ubaldo, Drew, and Balfour
— Jim morrison (@artred96) January 11, 2014
I think the offer to Tanaka was helped today. They want him badly and so -- if they had A-Rod or not -- they were going all out for Tanaka. I could see them adding Grant Balfour in the back of the bullpen, knowing they need to be strong in the pen to protect what could be some soft spots in the starting rotation.
The Yankees don't like Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza or Ervin Santana that much, so I don't think they do a U-turn for those guys if they don't get Tanaka. But Tanaka is No. 1 on their list.
@AndrewMarchand Do you see A-Rod as more Roddy Piper, Hollywood Hogan or CM Punk? Thanks, R. Deitsch, NYC.
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) January 11, 2014
None of the above. Ted DiBiase, the Million Dollar Man.