Alex Rodriguez was suspended through 2014 and All-Stars Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta and Everth Cabrera were banned 50 games apiece Monday when Major League Baseball disciplined 13 players in a drug case -- the most sweeping punishment since the Black Sox scandal nearly a century ago.
Ryan Braun's 65-game suspension last month and previous punishments bring to 18 the total number of players disciplined for their relationship to Biogenesis of America, a closed anti-aging clinic in Florida accused of distributing banned performing-enhancing drugs.
The harshest penalty was reserved for Rodriguez, a three-time Most Valuable Player and baseball's highest-paid star. His suspension covers 211 games, starting Thursday, and he is expected to appeal.
The New York Yankees slugger admitted four years ago that he used performance-enhancing drugs while with Texas from 2001-03 but has repeatedly denied using them since.
Others accepting the suspensions included New York Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli and outfielder Fernando Martinez; Philadelphia pitcher Antonio Bastardo; Seattle catcher Jesus Montero; New York Mets infielder Jordany Valdespin and outfielder Cesar Puello; Houston pitcher Sergio Escalona; San Diego pitcher Fautino De Los Santos; and free agent pitcher Jordan Norberto.
MLB informed the Yankees on Sunday that Rodriguez will be suspended for his links to the now-closed anti-aging clinic outside Miami, another person said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Yankees weren't told the exact length of the suspension, though they were under the impression it will be through the 2014 season, the person said.
But the person also said A-Rod will be eligible to play while he appeals the penalty to an arbitrator.
Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun accepted a season-ending, 65-game suspension two weeks ago.
A total of 14 players — including Braun and Rodriguez — were targeted in the drug probe. MLB's investigation was sparked in January when the Miami New Times published documents obtained from former Biogenesis associate Porter Fisher that linked several players to the clinic.
Cruz, a Texas outfielder, leads his team in home runs and RBIs. Peralta is a two-time All-Star shortstop with Detroit. Cabrera, the San Diego shortstop, leads the National League in stolen bases.
The 38-year-old Rodriguez was set to play his first game of the year for the Yankees on Monday night in Chicago, following his recovery from hip surgery in January and a strained quadriceps.
"He's in there, and I'm going to play him," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Sunday.
The Yankees star and three-time AL MVP could get a shorter penalty if he agrees to give up the right to file a grievance and force the case before an arbitrator, the person familiar with that decision added. Barring an agreement, Rodriguez's appeal would be heard by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz.
A suspension from Monday through 2014 would total 214 games, and an unsuccessful appeal could stretch serving the penalty into 2015.
In the era before players and owners agreed to a drug plan in late 2002, arbitrators often shortened drug suspensions — in the case of Yankees pitcher Steve Howe, his penalty was cut from a lifetime ban to 119 days.
Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson was excited A-Rod could play during an appeal.
"I want him back with us. This is arguably one of the best hitters of all time," he said. "Having him in the lineup is obviously going to be very positive for us."