Alex Rodriguez turns 39 in July. (Simon Bruty/SI)
Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez has been suspended for 162 games for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy and interfering with the league's investigation into the Biogenesis clinic at the heart of the latest performance-enhancing drug scandal to rock the sport.
The ruling, issued by arbitrator Frederic Horowitz, is a reduction from the 211-game suspension Rodriguez was handed by MLB commissioner Bud Selig back in August, but it's still the longest drug-related suspension in MLB history. For the 38-year-old Rodriguez, it means the loss of an entire season and $25 million in salary. The Yankees will gain $27.5 million worth of salary relief for luxury tax purposes, since the average annual value of his deal is what counts there. That will aid the team's attempt to get below the $189 million threshold to reset their luxury tax rate, but it leaves a major hole in their lineup.
In a statement, Rodriguez said he would he appeal the ruling in federal court, though the likelihood of a judge overruling the collective bargaining process is believed to be slim.
"The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one," said Rodriguez. "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 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."
Rodriguez is a three-time American League MVP who has been with the Yankees since 2004. He has signed the two largest contracts in baseball history, including his current 10-year, $275 million contract with New York that runs through 2017.