Skip to content

Melky Cabrera’s contract is not evidence that the drug program is broken

Nov 16, 2012, 2:38 PM EDT

melky cabrera getty Getty Images

As soon as the news broke that Melky Cabrera is signing with the Blue Jays, several people in my Twitter timeline said things to the effect that it must be the case that baseball’s drug testing system is broken if someone fresh off a PED suspension can sign a two-year, $16 million deal. And I get the frustration I suppose, because no one likes to see cheaters prosper, but whatever you think of this deal, it cannot reasonably be interpreted as an indictment of the drug testing system.

Based on his last two seasons, Melky Cabrera was poised to make something like $40 million bucks in free agency. Maybe more. And now, though he is not going to be hurting or anything, he’s going to make less than half that.  Say what you want about the drug testing system, but tens of millions of dollars in lost wages is no small penalty.

Now, that doesn’t mean that Cabrera’s use of PEDs didn’t still somehow help him. I’ll acknowledge that $16 million over two years may still be more than he ever could have got if he never took PEDs.  But we don’t know. We simply have no way of knowing how much of Cabrera’s improvement over the past two years was a function of PEDs and how much of it was natural improvement as he reached an age when most players put up their best years. Maybe he would have turned into the player his potential always suggested he might, in which case he’d still be making a good living. Maybe he wouldn’t have. If anyone claims to know this for sure, they’re making crap up, because it’s unknowable with current science and baseball analytics.

But no matter what amount of advantage he still realized, it’s on Cabrera, human nature and the incentives any person — and any team like the Blue Jays — is subject to, not baseball’s drug program.  Just as no laws, no matter how tough, can eradicate crime, no drug testing program can eradicate cheating. People will still do it from time to time. And when they do, they run the risk of getting caught. And when they get caught, they are punished. As Melky Cabrera was punished, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.

Still not good enough for you? OK, that’s your right to think so. But know that the only logical conclusion to such thinking is to advocate for a lifetime ban for first time drug users. Because that’s the only thing that would have kept a team from taking a chance on Melky Cabrera like the Blue Jays are.  And while you may disagree, I think such a thing would be way too damn harsh.

Latest Posts
  1. A.J. Burnett: “I expect to be throwing soon for the Pirates, because I feel great.”

    Sep 4, 2015, 11:40 PM EDT

    A.J. Burnett AP

    A.J. Burnett feels great and wants to pitch again for the Pirates before the end of the season.

  2. Chris Davis takes major league home run lead with two homers on Friday

    Sep 4, 2015, 11:05 PM EDT

    Chris Davis Getty Images

    Chris Davis homered twice against the Blue Jays on Friday to move past Nelson Cruz for the major league home run lead.

  3. Billy Hamilton will begin a rehab assignment on Saturday

    Sep 4, 2015, 10:15 PM EDT

    Billy Hamilton Billy Hamilton

    Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton will rehab at Double-A and should rejoin the big league squad soon.

  4. Wil Myers activated from the 60-day disabled list

    Sep 4, 2015, 9:25 PM EDT

    wil myers getty Getty Images

    Wil Myers will make his long awaited return to the Padres’ lineup on Friday night after missing nearly three months with a wrist injury.

  5. Astros, Dallas Keuchel table extension talks until the off-season

    Sep 4, 2015, 8:35 PM EDT

    Dallas Keuchel Dallas Keuchel

    The Astros want to sign Dallas Keuchel to at least a four-year extension, but the two sides won’t negotiate until the season is over.

  6. James Paxton out “at least three or four days” with torn fingernail

    Sep 4, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT

    James Paxton James Paxton

    James Paxton will sit for a few days while his fingernail heals, then resume rehabbing with Triple-A Tacoma.

  7. Corey Kluber tweaks hamstring, expected to miss 10 days

    Sep 4, 2015, 6:55 PM EDT

    Corey Kluber Corey Kluber

    Corey Kluber will miss 10 days after tweaking his hamstring in a side session.

  8. Report: Job of Tigers manager Brad Ausmus in jeopardy

    Sep 4, 2015, 6:05 PM EDT

    Seattle Mariners v Detroit Tigers Getty Images

    Brad Ausmus could soon be out of a job as the Tigers sink in the AL Central.

  9. Domonic Brown diagnosed with a concussion

    Sep 4, 2015, 5:03 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 4.43.54 PM

    Brown may be done for the year.

  10. Justin Morneau returns from concussion, rejoins Rockies

    Sep 4, 2015, 4:47 PM EDT

    Justin Morneau Getty Images

    Any further concussion-related problems could force the former MVP into retirement

  11. Cardinals activate outfielder Jon Jay from the disabled list

    Sep 4, 2015, 3:48 PM EDT

    jon jay getty Getty Images

    Jay missed the past two months with a wrist injury.

  12. Sandy Alderson is not going to “roll over” for Scott Boras and shut down Matt Harvey

    Sep 4, 2015, 2:13 PM EDT

    Sandy Alderson AP

    The Matt Harvey controversy is a lot like the Stephen Strasburg shutdown of 2012. But Sandy Alderson is not going to do what Mike Rizzo did, someone close to him says.

  13. Yankees (finally) place Mark Teixeira on the disabled list

    Sep 4, 2015, 11:33 AM EDT

    Mark Teixeira AP

    Teixeira suffered the injury on August 17.

  14. Scott Boras and the Mets disagree on what Matt Harvey’s innings limit is

    Sep 4, 2015, 11:03 AM EDT

    Matt Harvey Matt Harvey

    Just when you thought the Mets would enjoy a smooth, controversy-free final month of the regular season.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. J. Baez (2263)
  2. B. Crawford (2227)
  3. H. Pence (2184)
  4. B. Harper (2107)
  5. C. Seager (1969)