Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY Sports
Alex Rodriguez has sued Major League Baseball, accusing the league of engaging in "tortious interference" in an effort to force him from the sport and potentially cost him tens of millions of dollars.
Rodriguez and his legal team have spent the week in an arbitration hearing against Major League Baseball, which levied a record 211-game suspension against the New York Yankees star for his alleged role in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal. MLB suspended 13 players in connection to the scandal.
"The entire legal dynamic is very complex, and my legal team is doing what they need in order to vindicate me and pursue all of my rights," Rodriguez said in a statement to USA TODAY Sports.
"This matter is entirely separate from the ongoing arbitration. I look forward to the arbitration proceedings continuing, and for the day to come when I can share my story with the public and my supporters."
Rodriguez's complaint alleges that MLB paid $150,000 in cash for stolen records related to Rodriguez. His lawyers also claim that MLB paid Tony Bosch, the former head of Biogenesis, $5 million "to buy his cooperation" and alleges that MLB investigator Dan Mullin engaged in "an inappropriate sexual relationship with a witness whom he himself interviewed about the Biogenesis matter."
MLB commissioner Bud Selig was named as a defendant in the suit, which was first reported by the New York Times.
Major League Baseball issued a statement chiding Rodriguez's camp for airing its grievances outside the provisions of the game's collective bargaining agreement, calling the suit a "clear violation of the confidentiality provisions of our drug program, and it is nothing more than a desperate attempt to circumvent the Collective Bargaining Agreement."
"While we vehemently deny the allegations in the complaint," MLB said in its statement, "none of those allegations is relevant to the real issue: whether Mr. Rodriguez violated the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program by using and possessing numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone, over the course of multiple years and whether he violated the Basic Agreement by attempting to cover-up his violations of the Program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner's investigation."
Rodriguez's appeal of his 211-game suspension before arbitrator Fredric Horowitz began Monday, with Bosch among those providing testimony on behalf of Major League Baseball. A ruling on his suspension - which could be overturned, upheld or reduced - is not expected until next month.
But A-Rod's legal team has chosen to launch a separate offensive, via the legal system.
Rodriguez argues that Selig's desire to burnish his legacy has driven the commissioner to single out the player in his fight against performance-enhancing drugs.
"Commissioner Selig," the lawsuit alleges, "and MLB persistently have employed powers not available to them under the collectively-bargained agreements between MLB and its union in order to make an example of Mr. Rodriguez, so as to gloss over Commissioner Selig's past inaction and tacit approval of the use of performance-enhancing substances ("PES") in baseball (not to mention his multiple acts of collusion), and in an attempt to secure his legacy as the "savior" of America's pastime."
The 38-year-old Rodriguez has completed six years of a 10-year, $275 million contract. He finished this season with 654 career home runs and stands to earn a $6 million bonus when he hits No. 660 to tie him with Willie Mays on baseball's all-time list, one of several incentives on what was expected to be a road to career leader Barry Bonds, who hit 762.
The lawsuit argues that MLB's sole intent was to interfere with Rodriguez's contract with the Yankees and that an upheld suspension would cost him tens of millions of dollars in salary and could prevent him from meeting performance goals.
It also says that Nike and Toyota have ended negotiations with Rodriguez for potential sponsorship contracts.
It has been assumed Rodriguez's appeal of his suspension would hinge largely on attacking the credibility of Bosch and other witnesses interviewed by MLB as it compiled a dossier against A-Rod.
His lawsuit also takes aim at the investigators.
Mullin, an MLB senior vice president and head of its Department of Investigations - created in the wake of the 2007 Mitchell Report on PED use in the game - has spearheaded efforts to gather evidence and gain the cooperation of witnesses since the Biogenesis scandal broke in January.
Rodriguez's suit alleges several of his actions were unethical and possibly illegal.
"Dan Mullin of MLB purchased what were represented to be these stolen documents for $150,000 in cash, which was handed off in a bag at a Fort Lauderdale, Florida area restaurant," the suit claims. "Upon information and belief, neither the recipient of the cash, nor MLB, filed the required IRS form 8300 for a cash transaction in excess of $10,000. Failure to do so is a federal offense. MLB's conduct may also fall under the Klein conspiracy theory of criminal liability.
"Mr. Mullin's actions should come as no surprise as - despite his role as an investigator for MLB in this matter - he engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a witness whom he himself interviewed about the Biogenesis matter."
Mullin's aggressive role in the investigation - detailed months ago by Biogenesis whistleblower Porter Fischer - dovetails with Selig's lust to punish Rodriguez for PED use. Rodriguez admitted in 2009 that he used steroids from 2001-2003, but has maintained that he has not doped since baseball implemented a testing policy that penalizes those who test positive.
The lawsuit argues that although more than a dozen players were identified in the Biogenesis documents, Ryan Braun and Rodriguez became the "target of MLB's highly publicized investigation."
"Taking down Mr. Rodriguez would vividly demonstrate that Commissioner Selig had learned from the errors of his previous explicit or tacit tolerance of steroid use."
The lawsuit accuses MLB investigators of harassing, intimidating and pressuring individuals whom they wanted to cooperate with MLB's investigation. And it accuses of MLB of knowing that Bosch had high school ballplayers as clients and still cut a deal with him and promised to "put in a good word" for him with law enforcement agencies.
"Such are the lengths that Commissioner Selig and MLB have stooped to in their witch hunt against Mr. Rodriguez - paying and protecting someone under investigation for providing steroids to minors."
"MLB's incessant use of the media against Mr. Rodriguez reached new lows on August 19, 2013, when it ambushed Mr. Rodriguez's counsel, Joseph Tacopina, on live, national television with a letter offering to publicly release all confidential information regarding Mr. Rodriguez. ... In further demonstration of its bad faith, MLB did not send this letter to Mr. Rodriguez's counsel or Mr. Rodriguez. Instead, this letter - which itself contained substantial confidential information concerning MLB's investigation of Mr. Rodriguez - was delivered only to the Today Show. ...
"By publicly trying Mr. Rodriguez - whose investigation it is contractually obligated to keep private - MLB has permanently harmed Mr. Rodriguez's reputation. Its gratuitous leaks and public statements concerning Mr. Rodriguez's alleged actions have ensured that Mr. Rodriguez will not secure any endorsement contracts in the future."
The lawsuit also argues that MLB's attempts to "tarnish Mr. Rodriguez's character" will result in a loss of income from royalties and has interfered with his ability to run his businesses, including a construction company and a Mercedes-Benz dealership near Houston.
All, they maintain, in the name of burnishing Selig's reputation. The suit mentions the myriad controversies that occurred under Selig's term as an owner of the Milwaukee Brewers and as commissioner, including baseball's collusion scandal in the mid-1980s and the cancellation of the 1994 World Series.
It levies much of its criticism, however, on Selig's handling of performance-enhancing substances, and that the perception he presided over the height of baseball's so-called steroids era framed his motivation for suspending Rodriguez by any means necessary.
The suit quotes the summary of the Mitchell Report, in which former Sen. George Mitchell says "it is clear that baseball missed the early warning signs of a growing crisis."
Contributing: Bob Nightengale
USA TODAY Sports