CHICAGO -- Alex Rodriguez has vowed to fight his 211-game suspension all the way to the end of the arbitration process. But before Monday's penalty was even announced, Rodriguez was advised by the union to accept whatever penalty was coming -- if it turned out to be a palatable number.
Michael Weiner, the union's executive director, revealed Tuesday that he had suggested to Rodriguez that he just take the suspension after inspecting Major League Baseball's case against him.
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"Based on the evidence that we saw, we made a recommendation," Weiner said during Tuesday's interview with the Mad Dog Radio show on SiriusXM. "The commissioner's office didn't meet it. They were much higher, and therefore, we're at a hearing."
Weiner also was asked if A-Rod would have accepted a 50-game ban.
"I don't want to give a number," he said, "but there was a number that I gave A-Rod and we advised him to take it. He was never given that number."
When told of Weiner's comments after the Yankees' 3-2 loss last night, A-Rod brushed aside the question. "First of all, I just came out of a game," he said. "And I'm not talking about that case any longer."
A-Rod must file his grievance to appeal the 211-game suspension by Wednesday, and with neither side showing any signs of moving toward a settlement, the expectation is that he is headed to a messy November showdown with MLB.
The suspension, which was announced Monday afternoon by MLB, does not take effect until Thursday, when the Yankees are off. Rodriguez is scheduled to make his 2013 Bronx debut Friday night for the start of a three-game series against the Tigers. A source said Tuesday that A-Rod still plans to finish the season and fight the case in arbitration.
In the days leading up to Monday's announcement, MLB rejected a last-ditch effort by Rodriguez to negotiate for a lesser sentence, and they do not plan to soften that hard-line stance any time soon. Sources said there has been no meaningful dialogue between Rodriguez's representatives and MLB since Monday, when commissioner Bud Selig handed down the suspensions.
Rodriguez is signed through 2017, and as of Tuesday, he is due another $97.6 million in guaranteed salary. Although arbitrator Fredric Horowitz ultimately will decide his punishment, Rodriguez has the final 49 games to prove what type of player he can be -- and how the Yankees will evaluate the third baseman as he approaches the age of 40.
Brian Cashman, who made a rare road trip to Chicago in part to monitor A-Rod's return, is reluctant to say much about Rodriguez these days. Whatever animosity currently exists between him and Rodriguez, that's a separate issue from measuring the level of ability he has left. Cashman does concede, however, that the MVP-caliber days are probably over for Rodriguez.
"He hasn't been that for a while," Cashman said last night, "but he has been an above-average player at that position . . . But I know he'll be better than what we've been running out there. Our hope is we can get what we were getting before."
Cashman hasn't been told by Rodriguez or anyone else in his camp that he intends to play out the remaining games, but he's going on that assumption. What happens with Rodriguez's suspension isn't likely to be resolved until well after the season as the complex nature of this case has Weiner believing it won't be heard until November or even December.
At any point during the next three months, the two sides could negotiate a settlement and avoid arbitration. Despite Selig's serious allegations Monday, when he accused Rodriguez of not only using and possessing PEDs, but obstructing the Biogenesis investigation, it may be tough to defend such a lengthy suspension.
If Horowitz upholds the full 211-game suspension, and it takes effect at the start of the 2014 season, Rodriguez will be forced to forfeit $31.35 million, based on his $25-million salary for next year and $21 million in 2015. Rodriguez refused to deny he was guilty of Selig's accusations when pressed Monday, but trying to whittle down that type of financial penalty is no doubt worth the effort.
Also, the Yankees would have to weigh the prorated balance of Rodriguez's suspension-reduced contract against what kind of production they could get from the aging slugger. The full penalty would mean A-Rod returns for the last 113 games of the 2015 season, with about $60 million left on his deal.
With Erik Boland in Chicago