Friday could be D-day for Major League Baseball's drug investigation.
Deliberations over suspensions in the Biogenesis case could stretch out for the rest of this week and delay announcements, two people familiar with the talks said Tuesday.
It appeared several of the dozen or so targeted players were likely to reach agreements on their penalties and avoid grievance hearings, one of the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized.
Both said MLB hopes to announce the penalties for all players involved at the same time.
Three-time MVP Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees and four 2013 All-Stars -- Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz, San Diego shortstop Everth Cabrera, Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta and Oakland pitcher Bartolo Colon -- are among the players who have been linked in media reports to Biogenesis. The closed Florida anti-aging clinic was accused by Miami New Times in January of distributing banned performing-enhancing drugs, sparking MLB's investigation.
If suspended, Cruz, who will be a free agent at the end of this season, has a couple of options, NBC DFW's Adam Boedeker says.
Others linked in media reports include Toronto outfielder Melky Cabrera, Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, San Diego catcher Yasmani Grandal and Seattle catcher Jesus Montero.
Melky Cabrera, the 2012 All-Star game MVP while with San Francisco, served a 50-game suspension last year for elevated testosterone, as did Grandal and Colon, the 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner.
Players who don't reach agreements can ask the players' association to file grievances, which would lead to hearings before arbitrator Fredric Horowitz. Discipline for first offenders under the drug agreement usually is not announced until after the penalty is upheld, but there is an exception when the conduct leading to the discipline already has been made public.
In addition, MLB may try to suspend Rodriguez under its collective bargaining agreement instead of its drug rules, which would lead to the suspension starting before the appeal.
Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun was the first player to reach an agreement with MLB. The 2011 NL MVP accepted a season-ending 65-game suspension last week. Braun tested positive for elevated testosterone in October 2011 but a 50-game suspension was overturned the following February by an arbitrator who ruled Braun's urine sample was handled improperly.
Rodriguez appears at risk for the harshest penalty. The Yankees are expecting him to be accused of recruiting other athletes for the clinic, attempting to obstruct MLB's investigation, and not being truthful with MLB in the past when he discussed his relationship with Dr. Anthony Galea, who pleaded guilty two years ago to a federal charge of bringing unapproved drugs into the United States from Canada.
"A-Rod was my teammate in New York. I'm glad he was my teammate," retired pitcher Roger Clemens said Tuesday in Boston, where he was at Fenway Park to mark the 25th anniversary of manager Joe Morgan's team that won the 1988 AL East title.
"I did things to make him feel comfortable. I did that for all of my teammates," Clemens said. "I think I was a pretty solid teammate."
The seven-time Cy Young Award winner was acquitted last year of federal charges he lied to Congress when he said he didn't take steroids or human growth hormone.
Clemens would not give his thoughts on MLB's Biogenesis investigation.
"I've got my own feelings on particular people in MLB, you know, how they approached my situation," he said. "I don't know about it, and I don't care about it, to tell you the truth.