NEW YORK – Alex Rodriguez was dealt the most severe punishment in the history of baseball’s drug agreement when an arbitrator ruled the New York Yankees third baseman is suspended for the entire 2014 season as a result of a drug investigation by Major League Baseball.
The decision by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, announced Saturday, cut the suspension issued Aug. 5 by baseball Commissioner Bud Selig from 211 games to this year’s entire 162-game regular-season schedule plus any postseason games.
Rodriguez vowed to continue his fight in federal court to reverse the decision.
Rodriguez is the most high-profile player ensnared by baseball’s drug rules, which were first agreed to in 2002 as management and union attempted to combat the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. In sustaining more than three-quarters of Selig’s initial penalty, Horowitz’s decision will be widely viewed as a victory for Selig.
“The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “This is one man’s decision, that was not put before a fair and impartial jury, does not involve me having failed a single drug test, is at odds with the facts and is inconsistent with the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement, and relies on testimony and documents that would never have been allowed in any court in the United States because they are false and wholly unreliable.”
The Major League Baseball Players Association had filed a grievance last summer saying the discipline was without “just cause.”
In Rodriguez’s partial victory, Horowitz ruled he is entitled to 21-183rds, or about 11.5 percent, of his salary this year, a person familiar with the decision said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the decision was not made public. That comes to $2,868,852.46.
New York figures to be happy with the decision, which eliminates uncertainty and gives the Yankees additional money to sign Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka or other free agents while remaining under the $189 million luxury tax threshold.
MLB was largely pleased.
“While we believe the original 211-game suspension was appropriate, we respect the decision rendered by the panel and will focus on our continuing efforts on eliminating performance-enhancing substances from our game,” MLB said in a statement.
The union said it “strongly disagrees” with the ruling but added “we recognize that a final and binding decision has been reached.”
“We respect the collectively-bargained arbitration process which led to the decision,” the union’s statement added.