Storm clouds gathering for Yankees, A-Rod

KWIKA attorney Aaron Liskin was quoted in Pete Brush’s article at Law360.com on rumors that the New York Yankees are aggressively looking for a way out of their contract with slugger Alex Rodriguez.

New allegations in the Miami New Times linking Rodriguez to a Florida clinic known for dispensing banned performance-enhancing cocktails have prompted the Yankees to rustle up a legal elixir of their own, including possible breach of contract charges and violation of boilerplate language covering “high standards of personal conduct, fair play and good sportsmanship.”

“I’m sure they have smart lawyers going word by word through every clause of his contract in search of anything that could amount to a significant violation,” said Aaron, adding that boilerplate is “the kind of amorphous language you could go after if you wanted to.”

The other side of the coin, however, says Aaron, is the risk the Yankees run of being viewed as anti-union for decades to come and alienating future free agents.  Major League Baseball’s players’ union is one of the strongest around and the agreement governing drug testing and banned substances doesn’t permit direct punishment of a player by his team.

Even without a formal conflict, Aaron says the Yankees “may be trying to put him in a position—with the injury, the rehab, the level of his play and the allegations—to embarrass him off the team.  But when you have $114 million coming over five years, you’d have a certain incentive to keep getting paid.”

However, the biggest factor may lie beyond the contract violations that the news leaks imply since, as Aaron notes, some of the drugs mentioned in the Miami New Times report are illegal under federal law, not just in baseball.  “The Yankees are concerned with the contract.  Alex Rodriguez might be more concerned with the criminal aspects.  If you suspect the possibility of criminal charges, you might have bigger things on your mind than a contract.”