BOSTON -- The New York Yankees, according to their general manager, "have the right, but not the obligation," to award bonus money to 39-year-old DH Alex Rodriguez if they determine certain milestones he reaches are "commercially marketable" in the career home runs chase.
Saturday, the GM, Brian Cashman, addressed the situation surrounding the slugger, who is coming off a one-year suspension for performance-enhancing drug transgressions and hit his 660th career home run Friday. Cashman explained why the Yankees' position, based on contract language, is straightforward in his view and has been misrepresented in various media circles.
Cashman and Rodriguez both have said that the team is going about the business of competing on the field, together, and that a process is in place to settle any dispute related to the marketing relationship.
"We have the right but not the obligation, in quotes, and it's as simple as that," Cashman said. "If we choose to pursue something, we'll choose to pursue it. If we choose not to, it's our right not to. In both cases, we're honoring the contract."
Rodriguez tied Willie Mays for fourth place on the home run list with his eighth-inning, pinch-hit homer off Junichi Tazawa in Friday's 3-2 Yankees victory over the Red Sox.
Rodriguez's 10-year, $275 million deal signed in 2007 contained a marketing agreement that is separate from his player contract. It stated that the Yankees had the right to designate a "milestone" -- valued at $6 million for each occurrence -- if Rodriguez tied Mays, Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds (762), plus another if Rodriguez set the home run record.
"We're going to follow the contract as we follow all contracts. So there is no dispute, from our perspective," Cashman said. "We're going to honor our responsibilities of the contract.
"And what the contract actually says are two different things. We have the right but not the obligation to do something, and that's it. And it's not, '[If] you do this, you get that.'"
Cashman said that Rodriguez has been "great" in the clubhouse and with the media this season, and there seems to be no need to discuss the Yankees' stance on this issue with Rodriguez.
"We don't have to," Cashman said. "Again, we'll honor the contract and follow the contract. There's nothing to address. He's got a copy, too."
Asked about the bonus payout on Friday, Rodriguez replied: "You know, I'm so in the moment right now. I'm really grateful to be playing baseball. Those things will take care of themselves."
If Rodriguez disagrees with the decision, he has the right to have the case heard by an arbitrator. The Major League Baseball Players Association has said that they are prepared to step in on Rodriguez's behalf if the bonus payment is withheld by the Yankees.
"The great thing about contracts is that if there are any disputes, there's mechanisms for anybody who has a misunderstanding or a misinterpretation," Cashman said. "There are procedures in place to have people determine if there is some misunderstanding. I don't think that we believe there's any misunderstanding. I think it's pretty clear.
"I think our fan base and the baseball public think it's like a games-started [incentive]; if you get 30 starts, you get a bonus. That's not how the contract reads. We always honor our contracts. We're not going to do anything different in this case, either. But I think the reporting on it has been false."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.