Mar 27, 2013, 5:55 AM EST
As we approach Opening Day, HarballTalk will be spending the next few days previewing all 30 teams, all six division races and looking ahead at the major issues and storylines which will impact the 2013 season. This morning we look at the Biogenesis scandal, which could lead to the suspension of several high-profile players.
Some of baseball’s biggest stars including Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez, Nelson Cruz, Gio Gonzalez, Yasmani Grandal, Bartolo Colon and many, many more enter the 2013 season under a cloud. Or a threat, if you will. The threat of suspension for their association with a now-closed Miami clinic called Biogenesis, which is alleged to have supplied these players and as many as 90 more with testosterone, human growth hormone and other performance enhancing drugs which violate baseball’s rules against performance enhancing drugs. It is unknown if those suspensions will come. It is unknown when. But all teams with a player named in the documents of the Biogenesis clinic face uncertainty as Opening Day approaches.
The Biogenesis news broke in late January, when it was reported by multiple outlets that Major League Baseball was investigating the clinic and its operator, Anthony Bosch, under the suspicion that the clinic represented “ground zero” for performance enhancing drugs in Florida, where a disproportionate number of major leaguers grew up, played amateur and college baseball or where they currently make their offseason homes. On January 29, the Miami New Times obtained and published a large portion of the Biogenesis clinic’s records which contained the names of several major leaguers accompanied in many cases by notations which suggested that the players were given performance enhancing drugs. The documents were not conclusive of any player’s use and, in some cases — like with Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez — no connection could be found between the player and any substances which are banned by Major League Baseball.
Immediately after the Miami New Times report came out all of the players involved either denied any involvement with Biogenesis whatsoever or denied that they obtained banned substances. For example, Gonzalez claims that his father was a patient of Anthony Bosch’s. Ryan Braun claims that his attorneys used Bosch as a consultant in his successful 2012 appeal of his PED suspension. Despite the denials, the report and the documents set off a media firestorm which caused Major League Baseball to step up its investigation of the players named therein.
The biggest problem: Major League Baseball doesn’t actually have the Biogenesis documents. The Miami New Times and other media outlets which have seen all or part of them are unwilling to share them with the league and, at present, Anthony Bosch is nowhere to be found. Last Friday Major League Baseball sued Biogenesis in an effort to obtain the documents, but it is not at all clear that they have any viable legal claims against the clinic. More significantly, many doubt that the original documents still exist at all.
What is clear is that Major League Baseball is stopping at nothing to investigate the matter with a clear eye towards suspending the players named in the clinic’s records if at all possible. MLB is reported to be particularly interested in suspending 2011 NL MVP Braun, who they see as having evaded justice in prevailing on his appeal last year and Rodriguez who many in baseball believe lied to MLB investigators in 2009 when he admitted to past, but not present drug use.
Can Major League Baseball suspend these players without a positive drug test? Yes, it can. Pursuant to the Joint Drug Agreement which governs these matters, baseball can suspend players for “just cause” if there is non-clinical evidence suggesting that they have used performance enhancing drugs. Most believe that conclusive documentary evidence of past use, as may appear in the Biogenesis records, would provide such grounds. Baseball’s inability to obtain these records, however, is preventing almost all action at present. So far, all baseball has been able to do is to suspend one minor leaguer – who happens to have been a college teammate and who is still a close friend of Braun’s — who was implicated based on the league’s belief that he was not cooperative when questioned. Major league players have not yet been questioned, but they almost certainly will be. They will have greater legal and union protections from discipline than their minor league counterparts, however.
That’s where we are as the season dawns. Several players, including two former MVPs, in the crosshairs of a Major League Baseball investigation, the outcome of which and endpoint of is uncertain. At literally any time between today and, well, forever, baseball could suspend Braun, Rodriguez, Gonzalez, Cruz or any of players named in the Biogenesis documents for 50 games.
To put that in context, the most big leaguers Major League Baseball has ever suspended in a season for performance enhancing drugs is six, which occurred last year. In most years it’s two or three. Now dozens upon dozens of players may face a 50-game suspension for a first offense of the Joint Drug Agreement, with some facing 100-game suspensions for a second offense. Suspensions of this magnitude could conceivably tip the pennant races. And for that reason, even if you don’t care a lick about performance enhancing drugs in baseball, the Biogenesis matter is worth watching.
Dec 11, 2013, 8:45 PM EST
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the Astros are in “serious discussions” with free agent Michael Morse. If he goes to Houston, he’ll be reunited with Bo Porter, who was the third base coach during his time with the Nationals. Morse, who turns 32 in March, batted .215/.270/.381 with 13 home runs and 27 RBI…
Dec 11, 2013, 8:16 PM EST
The Orioles have been pretty quiet at this week’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, but it sounds like that could change soon. According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Orioles have made offers to outfielder Nelson Cruz and closer Grant Balfour. No word on the specifics, but the thought is that they are willing to offer…
Dec 11, 2013, 8:07 PM EST
That seven-year offer to Shin-Soo Choo we heard about earlier? Well, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com has the scoop on where it came from: According to a source, the Rangers have a seven-year offer on the table to free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and he is giving it serious consideration. The offer is less than the…
Dec 11, 2013, 7:46 PM EST
The Mariners took two first baseman off the board earlier today by agreeing to a deal with Corey Hart and acquiring Logan Morrison from the Marlins. Could Mets’ first baseman Ike Davis be the next domino to fall? While nothing appears to be imminent, Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio reports that the Brewers, Rays,…
Dec 11, 2013, 7:28 PM EST
An answer on “Jeopardy!” tonight totally buys in to the PED hysteria: Oh GFY, Jeopardy — #TeamBonds pic.twitter.com/kRmi2daChD — James Kannengieser (@jameskann) December 12, 2013 That’s sad, man. I’d expect that from Sajak, but I figured Trebek was way cooler on the nuances of the whole PED thing and could see through it all…
Dec 11, 2013, 7:10 PM EST
Jose Veras served as the Astros’ closer this past season before a trade to the Tigers in July and now it appears that a return to Houston could be in the cards. Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reported this afternoon that the Astros made an offer to Veras which was turned down. The two sides are…
Dec 11, 2013, 6:52 PM EST
We heard earlier today that free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo was looking for a seven-year, $140 million contract, but he’s actually aiming a bit higher. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, the “general sense among teams involved” is that Choo will sign with whoever offers him an eight-year deal. The belief is that he…
Dec 11, 2013, 6:30 PM EST
After pulling off a three-way trade yesterday to land slugger Mark Trumbo, the Diamondbacks are currently looking for an impact starting pitcher via free agency and trade. And FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that they have one name at the top of their list. Sources: #DBacks' No. 1 target is Tanaka. Continue to explore trades,…
Dec 11, 2013, 6:16 PM EST
Yesterday I ranked major league managers by handsomeness. Ron Gardenhire came in at number 28, unfortunately. Couldn’t be helped. It’s just science. Well, his inner beauty is off-the-charts, because here he is, quite pleased, about his ranking: I do not know if Clint Hurdle (30) and Ron Washington (29) feel the same way and, frankly,…
Dec 11, 2013, 5:47 PM EST
You may have heard … it looks like the New York Yankees will retire Joe Torre’s number. That is absolutely the right thing to do — heck Billy Martin’s number is retired — and it brings us just a little big closer to one of the cooler number things in sports: Very soon the first…
Dec 11, 2013, 5:37 PM EST
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL — Joe Torre just addressed the media at the Winter Meetings to announce the latest developments on instant replay. The latest: not many developments. Torre said that the matter was discussed at length with managers and general managers here this morning and that, while the league has given general approval of…
Dec 11, 2013, 5:27 PM EST
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Mets have agreed to a two-year, $20 million deal with Bartolo Colon. Colon going from out of baseball in 2010 to throwing 507 innings with a 3.32 ERA over the past three seasons is a remarkable story, especially considering he was 38 years old when the comeback began.…
Dec 11, 2013, 5:17 PM EST
No doubt feeling pretty bullet proof after fixing Francisco Liriano the Pirates and pitching coach Ray Searage have taken on any even bigger reclamation projection in Edinson Volquez. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that Volquez has agreed to a one-year, $5 million deal, which is pretty nice money for someone coming off a 5.71 ERA.…
Dec 11, 2013, 5:10 PM EST
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL — Joe Torre and Sandy Alderson just announced that the MLB Rules Committee has voted to outlaw collisions at home plate. The decision is now subject to approval by the players. If the players do not approve the rule change it will not go into effect in 2014, but MLB would…
Dec 11, 2013, 5:00 PM EST
That’s all I can assume he’s doing here anyway, when he was presumably asked if the Phillies might pursue Matt Garza and Ruben Amaro talked up his incumbent pitcher Kyle Kendrick: Amaro: “Kendrick has 64 wins. You know how many wins Garza has? 67.” — Matt Gelb (@magelb) December 11, 2013 A second possibility:…
Dec 11, 2013, 4:51 PM EST
Houston picked up some pitching help, getting right-hander Anthony Bass from San Diego for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Bass had a 4.08 ERA in 187 innings for the Padres, making 18 starts and 57 relief appearances, but he’s gotten progressively worse following a very strong 2011 debut with shoulder problems…
Dec 11, 2013, 4:38 PM EST
And no, this is not a continued riff on my managerial handsomeness rankings. I mean, yes, the guy is an absolute dreamboat, but I actually sat through his press availability here at the Winter Meetings a few minutes ago and I cam away impressed for baseball reasons as well. It’s hard to put a finger…
Dec 11, 2013, 4:00 PM EST
Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports on a big, big sales job: The club also continues to look to move closer Jonathan Papelbon. “They’re selling the [crap] out of him,” a representative from one club said. He’s owed $26 million over the next two seasons and, though the Phillies are reportedly willing to eat salary, no one…
Dec 11, 2013, 3:47 PM EST
Adam Kennedy is going to attempt a comeback at age 38, according to Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors. Kennedy sat out this year despite hitting .262 with a decent .702 OPS in 86 games for the Dodgers in 2012. Adams reports that he’ll work out for teams next month in the hopes of landing…
Dec 11, 2013, 3:29 PM EST
The Brewers used to have Corey Hart at first base and tried to bring him back. Then they were rumored to be into Logan Morrison. The Mariners jumped in front of them on both counts because, apparently, they want all of the first baseman. Heck, they now have both of those guys and Justin Smoak.…
- Mets sign 40-year-old Bartolo Colon for two years, $20 million 28
- MLB rules committee decides to eliminate collisions at home plate 36
- Mariners sign Corey Hart to incentive-laden deal 27
- David Price would not consider an extension with the Mariners if he’s traded there 34
- Media paying for athlete interviews? Not likely. But watch this stuff closely anyway. 20
- Robinson Cano agrees to $240 million deal with Mariners (260)
- Report: Mariners willing to offer Robinson Cano a 10-year, $240 million deal (143)
- Report: Yankees have agreed to a three-year deal with Carlos Beltran (125)
- Brett Gardner is drawing “significant” trade interest (113)
- Managers, GMs to meet today to discuss the abolition of home plate collisions (113)