Pinstriped peace accord? Yankees, A-Rod acrimony appears far from over

Alex Rodriguez apologized to Brian Cashman and the Yankees brass. But the feud isn't finished. Gene J. Puskar/AP Photo

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez and his bosses with the New York Yankees have done what they had to do.

They took a meeting together at which the designated villain (A-Rod) presented his humble mea culpa, the aggrieved executives (Randy Levine and Brian Cashman) sternly promised to let bygones be bygones, and they all joined arms and sang a chorus or two of "Kumbaya" under the benevolent gaze of Hal Steinbrenner.

But don’t for a minute believe all is well between Rodriguez and the organization that owes him another $61 million -- and possibly as much as $91 million -- but doesn’t want to have to pay a penny of it.

According to sources who were in the room at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, and others who were thousands of miles away but are still hooked into what went on, the chances of long-term peace between the Yankees and A-Rod are about as good as the chances of Brian Williams being awarded the Silver Star.

For one thing, although Cashman and Levine -- famously, or infamously, called "the devil" by protestors outside A-Rod's grievance hearing last winter -- accepted A-Rod's apology, at least one of them told Rodriguez in no uncertain terms that there were some actions taken by Rodriguez and his supporters during the hearing that simply would not go away.

(In addition to the "Randy Levine is the Devil" signs, A-Rod also alleged the Yankees pressured him to play with an injured hip and sued team doctor Christopher Ahmad for malpractice.)

For another, the Yankees informed Rodriguez they have no intention of paying the $6 million bonuses in the ancillary contract the two parties agreed to in 2007 when they renegotiated the 10-year, $275 million deal in effect through the 2017 season.

The bonuses are based on A-Rod reaching five home-run milestones: Willie Mays' 660, from which he is just six home runs removed, Babe Ruth’s 714, Hank Aaron's 755, Barry Bonds' 762, and the eventual all-time record, 763, if Rodriguez manages to reach it.

The Yankees' contention will be that they reserve the right to determine what a “milestone" actually is, and will argue that due to A-Rod's 162-game suspension by Major League Baseball in connection with the Biogenesis investigation, his now-tainted home run totals no longer constitute milestones. That would leave it up to A-Rod to grieve the Yankees' decision before an arbitrator, a process that has not served him very well lately.

But a source with knowledge of the language in the ancillary deal -- written to cash in on an expected merchandising and attendance bonanza as A-Rod chased his “milestones" -- told ESPNNewYork.com there was no such provision for the Yankees to wriggle out of paying Rodriguez his dough.

"The numbers themselves constitute the milestones," the source said. "The Yankees can't determine suddenly that in their opinion, 660 or 714 are no longer milestones. That would never stand up in court."

And although it has been reported elsewhere that Rodriguez already agreed not to contest the Yankees' decision, it seems highly unlikely that he would allow the Yankees not to live up to a contract both parties agreed to, nor would the MLBPA be likely to stand down and allow it to happen.

In fact, if A-Rod were smart, he would contest any attempt on the part of the Yankees to not pay him his bonuses by announcing he intends to donate all or part of the money to charity. (The Yankees, of course, could counter by suggesting A-Rod donate all or part of his 2015 salary, $21 million, to charity. See? This could still get deliciously nasty.)

The truth is, it was an awfully curious meeting that took place in Hal Steinbrenner’s office, hastily convened about a week after A-Rod met with new commissioner Rob Manfred for the third time since the end of the World Series, when his suspension ended. Meanwhile, the Yankees had shown no indication of planning to meet with Rodriguez, pointedly saying publicly that he “would be treated like any other player."

Might it have been Steinbrenner himself who called all the warring parties together in his office, to at least create the illusion that all was sweetness and light again between the Yankees and their troubled, and troublesome, third baseman?

Strange also is that, according to one person in the room, the subject of where and when A-Rod would find himself in the lineup this season never came up, despite the signing of Chase Headley to play third base in 2015 and frequent public statements by the Yankees this winter that Rodriguez's best chance to play at all would come as a right-handed DH.

You’d think at some point that subject might have come up for discussion. But no.

Instead, we are told that A-Rod came in, $61 million hat in hand, apologized to everyone in the room, and docilely agreed as the Yankees told him they would not be paying him bonuses that were contractually stipulated.

You can believe that if you like.

But I am telling you we are not even close to a peaceful resolution in this matter of New York Yankees v. Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez, and in fact, the fun may only be beginning.