Earlier in the week Big League Stew brought you up to date on the New York Daily News reportindicating that Alex Rodriguez could either take a deal that would suspend him for the rest of 2013 and all of 2014, or face a lifetime ban from baseball.
On Wednesday, Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk reaffirmed baseball's position. His report was later supported by USA Today's Bob Nightengale, who added that up to eight more players could have their suspensions announced by the weekend. That's big news in itself, but obvious focus goes directly on A-Rod. We also know the term "lifetime ban" has been connected to Rodriguez a lot even before these recent reports, but this is the first true indication that it's more than just a possibility and is now on the table as a realistic option for MLB.
Up until this point A-Rod's attorney David Cornwell said any suspension would be appealed, regardless of length. Obviously that outlook has changed now in wake of the latest news, because ESPN's T.J. Quinn reported on Wednesday night that A-Rod's representative's had now entered into negotiations on a settlement with the league with the understanding that it could result in a lengthy suspension that will keep him off the field through the 2014 season.
Several sources have told "Outside the Lines" that some MLB officials have pushed for a lifetime ban, saying they would rather force Rodriguez to defend himself than agree to a suspension that allows him play while he appeals. Rodriguez was presented with MLB's evidence in recent days, detailing what sources said were "volumes" of documents establishing a connection between Rodriguez and Biogenesis clinic founder Tony Bosch.
Sources said MLB was also given evidence supporting accusations that Rodriguez attempted to coerce at least one witness in MLB's investigation. That accusation is the basis of MLB's argument that Rodriguez may be punished for his conduct, in addition to multiple violations of the game's joint drug agreement.
MLB is apparently hoping that Rodriguez will accept a lengthy suspension that could keep him off the field through at least next season, without the time and trouble of an arbitration hearing.
We know what the league wants. Now we know what A-Rod and his reps are currently seeking. A suspension of any length is likely to squash whatever productivity Rodriguez has left anyway (plus he'll be clean). He'll never earn back his reputation on the field. And even though we're learning new information by the week, it feels like we're talking and reporting in circles.
If they truly do reach a settlement by the weekend, that would be the best news all season. August and September should be about what's happening on the field, not what's happening at an arbitration hearing.