The Yankees can’t void A-Rod’s contract

The idea of the Yankees attempting to void Alex Rodriguez‘s contract pops up every now and then even when A-Rod isn’t in the middle of a major ongoing story involving continued use of banned substances, so I certainly can’t say that I’m surprised it’s become all the rage with columnists both national and local since the Miami New Times story came out yesterday. Still, there’s no more chance that the Yankees can actually do it today than there was last week.

The first, and biggest, problem for the Yankees to clear is that A-Rod’s contract is guaranteed, and iron-clad under the rules of the CBA. The Yankees can not simply decide, unilaterally, to abrogate the contract, nor can they go before a judge or an arbitrator making ad hoc arguments as though the law had to be made on the fly due to unclear rules or something. Disciplinary reasonings won’t help either, since the CBA also spells out in detail the exact punishments for A-Rod’s alleged offense, and they don’t include the voiding of a free agent contract. If the league decides to take action, Alex will be suspended for 50 games as stipulated by the rules, and that’s that. Indeed, the fact that the punishment is explicitly prescribed by the CBA more or less shuts this whole discussion down, as there’s no way the Yankees can expect to find a judge who would find that they are somehow special and can operate outside the parameters of the CBA, which is exactly what they’d be doing.

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

31 thoughts on “The Yankees can’t void A-Rod’s contract

  1. Sherm

    Thank you Brien. The national sports journalists really betray their ignorance and laziness on topics such as this.

    Perhaps your next post can explain that an insurance company won't simply issue the Yankees a check in the amount of $85 million without conducting any due diligence in the event that A-Rod and the Yankees agree that he can't return from his surgery. Voiding the contract was yesterday's meme. Expecting the insurance carrier which insured the contract to cough up $85 million no questions asked appears to be today's. I am not saying that its impossible that the carrier will payout, but every article I saw this morning on the subject gave the false impression that there was nothing to it for the Yankees.

  2. ScotT

    Maybe he'll be shamed into early retirement? A man can dream, right?

    • I mean, you can dream, but it's not happening. We can already see A-Rod going down the denial route. He's gonna fight this 'til the bitter end.

    • Gene

      A man without pride can't be shamed.

  3. skeaney

    It really depends on the moral clauses in his contract. If it specifically mentions PEDs or anything around there then that could be grounds for contract violation. Otherwise, yeah not much they can do other than hope he doesn't recover from the surgery and hope to collect on the insurance.

    • BrienJackson

      As far as I know, there's no such thing as a morals clause, and they wouldn't be allowed by the CBA.

      • skeaney

        From http://espn.go.com/new-york/mlb/story/_/id/889490… :

        "All contracts have moral clauses," a baseball official who handles contract negotiations said. "It will come down to the language in (Rodriguez's) contract. If it is a normal moral clause, (the Yankees) won't have much of a case. If there are specific clauses that went into steroids and performance-enhancing drugs, then I doubt he would walk away with his money."

        • BrienJackson

          My guess is that it's so toothless as to be irrelevant, but why would A-Rod have signed such a clause in 2007?

          • skeaney

            Arrogance, good intentions? Where else was he going to get that money? If someone presents you a contract for $30 million a year but it has a stipulation about behaving a way you already do, do you really think the possibility of you violating the stipulation is going to prevent signing?

            Maybe he thought he didn't need them anymore only to switch to anti-aging therapy when he realized he was losing it or hurt. Or more likely, he didn't think he would get caught. Who knows what someone like Arod would be thinking and this is all speculation on if that language even exists in the contract. However, I don't think its unbelievable that he would sign something while knowing he was going to violate it.

            However, you're probably right… I highly doubt they are getting out of the contract. The language probably isn't there and if it is, it is probably toothless.

  4. jay_robertson

    The M&M twins have an interesting article on the 4 letter site. Natch – they come down on all sides of any argument – but they write that there is wording in the bargained Joint Drug Prevention & Treatment Program stating that only the MLB can suspend a player for drugs – but – the same paragraph "does not preclude a club from taking further action against a player who is unable to play because of injury or disability "resulting directly from a physical injury or mental condition arising from his violation of the Program"."

    That line goes a long way towards explaining Dr. Kelly's lengthy (and oddly timed) explanation of why Alex's hip injury could not POSSIBLY be related to drug use. Gotta admit, Alex is canny, even if he does do dumb things.

    • Sherm

      "because of injury or disability "resulting directly from a physical injury or mental condition arising from his violation of the Program".""

      How would the Yankees ever meet their burden of proof that his hip condition was proximately caused by his PED use after the Program was put in place?

      • jay_robertson

        Didn't say it would be easy – only that THAT clause seems to be the only leg the team would have to stand on. As you point out, it would be nigh onto impossible to prove.

        What we need to remember is that the Yankees, with this much money involved, are going to have lawyers involved who are far smarter than the guys who signed the contract in the first place. All of us are pretty much reduced to shouting from the sidelines. I haven't seen the contract and I'm not a lawyer.

        • Sherm

          Doesn't matter how smart the lawyers are. They will need expert medical testimony backed by literature linking his PED use since 2005 to the debilitating injury and the trier of fact to accept such evidence over the opinion of the treating surgeon, whose opinion as a non hired gun will be afforded greater weight. And the treating surgeon is a top guy, of course. I have had several clients who have treated with him, and I tried to get my own father to travel from upstate to see him a couple of years ago. Doctors like him generally don't BS under oath for their patients, and the judges and juries know it.

          BTW — I didn't mean to imply that you had said that it would be easy. I was just suggesting that it would be virtually impossible.

      • James Dogg

        Not knowing the actual wording of the contract, here is one hypothetical that could play out- ARod had similar surgery before and this was related to his employment – he could likely have been informed of the type of actions that could lead to the injury in the first place and have been informed not to take such actions because they are causal to the injury. If the report out of Mian=mi is true, then ARod used illegal substances after his previous surgery- so if he had been warned not to and did and ends up with the same injury there is an argument that he recklessly disregarded the medical advice resulting in his loss of ability to perform under the contrat so he is in breach

      • RCE

        What about conduct detrimental to the team/franchise/brand name? As the Yankee with the largest media presence, he is dragging the franchise and its reputation through the mud AGAIN. Enough is enough. His selfish actions are costing too many people too much money. If there is no precedent for this, one need be set immediately.

        • BrienJackson

          Nope.

  5. oldshiftyeyes

    Couldn't Bud Selig just ban him for life? The Yankees (I assume) wouldn't have to pay him, and Selig makes up for years of ignoring the problem by suddenly appearing super-tough on PEDs. Everybody wins.
    [Like ScotT above, I can dream, too.]

    • Norm

      Sure, he could try, but the player's association would fight him tooth and nail. I could be wrong, but I think the CBA has specific punishments for PED use. I believe A-Rod would have to fail 3 blood tests before that penalty was imposed. Since he hasn't even failed one, it would be pointless to even try going that route.

      • He couldn’t “try” either. A lifetime ban is the penalty for the third offense. He can’t just leapfrog the first two.

        • oldshiftyeyes

          I realize the scenario is pure fantasy. As long as everyone else was throwing out unrealistic possibilities across the internet I thought I'd propose what I'd like to happen, as well. Besides, I thought I saw a pig fly this morning. So, you never know . . .

  6. Derpy

    It would be nice if the MLB required opt out clauses for positive tests in all future contracts. That would probably be the best solution here.

    • The union will never agree to that, no matter how collegial they get with the league.

      • Anthony F

        Agreed that the union would NEVER go for it, but I had a similar thought yesterday. If they're really serious about getting rid of PEDs then instead of suspensions, a positive test allows a team to terminate the contract. The risk of losing years' worth of guaranteed money would scare the vast majority of players off. (Hit 'em where it hurts.) But again, the union would only agree to that if were truly "serious" about cleaning it up, which we know they're not.

        • BrienJackson

          Well, they'd only agree to that if they're so stupid as too think that false-positives don't happen.

  7. RCE

    If the CBA disallows voiding his contract due to this, then the CBA is wrong and needs to be changed. His actions are costing the Yankees (literally) hundreds of millions of dollars invested with NO return. If he is found to be lying AGAIN about his PED use, and the Yankees cant void the contract in turn, I would go to court over this even if there was zero chance of winning. For all intents and purposes, he is stealing money from the franchise.

    • Makes tons of sense, really: you’re wasting money on his contract, so go waste a whole lot more money (and probably pay him damages) by knowingly filing a frivolous lawsuit for something a court probably won’t even agree to hear.

  8. forged

    The question I have isn't what teams (and MLB) do with players that are now accused of PEDs, but haven't tested positive, but rather: What will it take to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the allegations are true?

    The story seems plausible, but I couldn't prove beyond a doubt that it is accurate.

    I would suspect that if a team or MLB acts on information gleaned outside of the testing process the union will immediately appeal due to the nature of the accusation.

    • One of the players admitting to it should do the trick.

      • forged@comcast.net

        Good point. That will be an interesting day if/when that comes to happen.

        However, athlete confessions (to things relating to their sport) seem to occur only when forced or way after the fact.

        It is interesting though. There is a lot of focus deservedly on A-Rod, but Gio Gonzalez had a huge year for the Nationals. I find it curious there isn't more outrage on that front.

  9. Toby Furney

    thank God.aroid is a bitch.i can not believe he did this to his career.why do you waste yours and my time in new york?why did you whine about people loving jeter and not you?why did you constantly screw up in the playoffs?why do i own your jersey?i swear to God and my mom above that i will never cheer for you again.i wished you signed with boston back in 03.you piece of shit

  10. Mister D

    I remember reading somewhere at some time (so much help that is) that the Yankees wanted an anti-PED clause in his contract, but ARod wouldn't sign with it. If so that completely undermines any case the Yankees might imagine they have,

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