New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez has been suspended for 162 games, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. The suspension also covers the 2014 postseason if the Yankees make it, notes Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports, meaning that Opening Day in 2015 will be the earliest that Rodriguez could appear in a major league game.
Rodriguez was initially suspended 211 games for his role in the Biogenesis scandal, but appealed his suspension and received the decision today. He has been vocal about his disdain for the suspension, and issued a statement today (via CBSSports.com):
"The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one. 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. This injustice is MLB's first step toward abolishing guaranteed contracts in the 2016 bargaining round, instituting lifetime bans for single violations of drug policy, and further insulating its corrupt investigative program from any variety defense by accused players, or any variety of objective review.
I have been clear that I did not use performance enhancing substances as alleged in the notice of discipline, or violate the Basic Agreement or the Joint Drug Agreement in any manner, and in order to prove it I will take this fight to federal court. I am confident that when a Federal Judge reviews the entirety of the record, the hearsay testimony of a criminal whose own records demonstrate that he dealt drugs to minors, and the lack of credible evidence put forth by MLB, that the judge will find that the panel blatantly disregarded the law and facts, and will overturn the suspension. No player should have to go through what I have been dealing with, and I am exhausting all options to ensure not only that I get justice, but that players' contracts and rights are protected through the next round of bargaining, and that the MLB investigation and arbitration process cannot be used against others in the future the way it is currently being used to unjustly punish me.
I will continue to work hard to get back on the field and help the Yankees achieve the ultimate goal of winning another championship. I want to sincerely thank my family, all of my friends, and of course the fans and many of my fellow MLB players for the incredible support I received throughout this entire ordeal."
With Rodriguez suspended, the Yankees will save $25 million in 2014 salary -- though they'll still owe $3.15 million towards the luxury tax, per Joel Sherman of the NY Post -- and will look to continue being aggressive on the free agent market. After signing Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Brian Roberts, Brendan Ryan, Kelly Johnson and Matt Thornton so far this offseason, the team is expected to pursue Masahiro Tanaka, Mark Reynolds and Michael Young with the money freed up by A-Rod's suspension.