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Could Jhonny Peralta’s four-year, $53 million deal spur harsher PED penalties?

Nov 24, 2013, 11:20 PM EDT

Jhonny Peralta AP

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports makes the case that the four-year, $53 million deal shortstop Jhonny Peralta just signed with the Cardinals could be a potential driving force behind harsher penalties for performance-enhancing drug use. Peralta was suspended for 50 games last year by Major League Baseball for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.

Peralta will take home an average annual salary of $13.25 million with his new deal with the Cardinals, which is more than double his highest single-season earning — $6 million in 2013. Brad Ziegler, reliever and union representative for the Diamondbacks, tweeted, “It pays to cheat…Thanks, owners, for encouraging PED use.”

Looking at the system from a purely objective way, leaving my own personal opinion out of it, if the penalty is to be tougher, it needs to take players out of action long enough for teams to call into question their ability. Here is the current system:

  • Use PED’s, they work, but get caught: Potentially have a great season, miss 50 games (and salary), chance to sign big free agent contract
  • Use PED’s they work, but don’t get caught: Potentially have a great season, miss 0 games, chance to sign big free agent contract
  • Don’t use PED’s: nothing, probably not getting a big free agent contract

Increasing the punishment from, say, 50 games for a first-time offense to 100 games is not enough of a deterrent from a game theory perspective, since teams clearly buy that a player’s skills won’t deteriorate from the missed playing time and from going off the use of PEDs. Major League Baseball would need to increase the frequency of drug testing and/or improve the ability to detect drug use, or increase the suspension length to a long enough time that teams don’t feel as comfortable putting stock in that player until he proves himself on the field again, which reduces the “payoff” of using PEDs. At the very least, to reach equilibrium, the punishment for a first-time offense likely needs to be increased to at least a full season or calendar year, including the playoffs.

  1. texasrug - Nov 24, 2013 at 11:29 PM

    Also they shouldn’t be able to use team facilities or work out in any way with their team

    • birdsonbat4life - Nov 27, 2013 at 4:08 PM

      Instead of having longer punishments, why not put a cap on what a player may earn yearly during his next contract? Or something such as, with a first positive test comes the 50 game suspension, a reduction of pay for the player for the remainder of the contract (Maybe something like 50% reduction) And the next contract that the player signs, cannot be longer than 1 year and have a capped amount for that contract? So lets say Peralta was making $6mm/year and received his suspension. For the remainder of that contract, he only makes $3mm per year, and once that contract is up, the most he will be eligible to sign for is 1 year, $5mm. After that 1 year contract, he’d be free to earn as much as a team is wiling to pay him. That gives the player a chance to prove himself and talent as a clean player, while also penalizing the pocketbook, gives teams insurance on their investments, and I think that the loss of more money is enough of a deterrent. Everyone wants to criticize teams paying players in a thin market, or suspend players for longer. Why not just take more of their money? Makes sense to me.

  2. tfbuckfutter - Nov 24, 2013 at 11:35 PM

    Same thing happened with Melky this past season.

    Perhaps a positive test should cost the player 1 calender year, plus negate his contract while the team still has to pay some portion of it into a charitable fund or something (and have the contract still count against the luxury cap threshold).

    Teams need to be punished for signing these guys too.

    • bfunk1978 - Nov 24, 2013 at 11:46 PM

      Cardinals payroll is going to be lower in 2014 than it was in 2013 when it was the 11th highest. Luxury tax will not be an issue no matter how you slice it.

      • tfbuckfutter - Nov 25, 2013 at 12:03 AM

        I referring more to the Alex Rodriguez issue.

        The Yanks are starting to spend like drunken sailors because they know his next years salary won’t count.

      • bfunk1978 - Nov 25, 2013 at 12:11 AM

        And in a rods case they knew exactly what they were getting. I guess than makes sense.

      • Kevin S. - Nov 25, 2013 at 7:54 AM

        They did? A-Rod’s revelation came after the new contract.

    • dan1111 - Nov 25, 2013 at 5:35 AM

      I don’t agree that it makes sense to punish teams for behavior that they may know nothing about. Yes, in the past teams may have looked the other way or even encouraged steroid use. If that is still going on, it should be punished. But it would be unfair to do so without actual evidence that the team is involved. Teams don’t babysit their players 24/7 and thus don’t have the power to prevent a player who wants to take steroids from doing so.

      All the recent cases point to players doing this on their own, rather than team involvement, anyway.

      Also, the current system gives teams an incentive to be cooperative with steroid investigations of their own players. Requiring them to pay the salary of suspended players would give them an incentive to cover up any steroid use of their players.

      • tfbuckfutter - Nov 25, 2013 at 7:24 AM

        Punishing the teams for the players’ actions would reduce the incentive significantly to sign a player who had been caught before driving down his unsure undue enrichment.

        I Would say that it only applying to players who have previously failed a test is reasonable too.

  3. bfunk1978 - Nov 24, 2013 at 11:44 PM

    So it seems Bill is saying that almost all big free agent deals are PED users.

    • paperlions - Nov 25, 2013 at 12:10 AM

      That is exactly what he said, whether he meant to or not.

  4. lorddarkhelmet - Nov 24, 2013 at 11:53 PM

    So was Jhonny using PEDs only every other season? Because he throws in a fairly bad season every other season. If he only used them for the on season then it actually helps his case because overall he is good without them (even if he will throw a pretty stinky year in there now and then). I guess what I am saying is maybe just maybe the whole thing is pretty overblown and maybe him being a good teammate, decent fielder, and a good hitter with a little extra power (actually this has been pretty constant for him), and a clutch hitter at that made it worth it for the Cards…especially given their alternatives.

  5. jxegh - Nov 24, 2013 at 11:54 PM

    Using PED’s works and pays. I can’t think of one player who has lost money in the long run using them. Bonds, Clemens, Pettite, McGwire, Giambi? And with more players getting caught, there is no shame in it either.

    If I were on the cusp of making the Major Leagues, can’t say I wouldn’t use them.

    • paperlions - Nov 25, 2013 at 12:07 AM

      Yeah, PEDs work so well that the year Peralta used them (2012) he had the worst season of his career.

      • tfbuckfutter - Nov 25, 2013 at 12:31 AM

        You really think that’s the ONLY time he used them?

        Hey, you wanna buy a bridge I got? It’s for sale, real cheap.

      • paperlions - Nov 25, 2013 at 7:31 AM

        You really think they have an effect on a person’s ability to play baseball? If so, here, I’ll write you a check for that bridge.

      • paperlions - Nov 25, 2013 at 7:32 AM

        Of course, extending your logic, I’ll just assume that everyone that has never tested positive also uses steroids (or some type of PED) regularly. After all, Peralta has never tested positive either.

      • tfbuckfutter - Nov 25, 2013 at 9:52 AM

        They positively effect anyone’s athletic ability to do anything they already were able to do.

        Working out harder and with less recovery time, toning specific muscles and increasing strength yes are positive impacts. Doping won’t make someone who doesn’t know how to ride a bike a tour de France winner…. But it will help someone already good become considerably better. This includes throwing a baseball harder and swinging a bat faster with more dense mass behind it.

    • stanbyerman - Nov 25, 2013 at 10:44 AM

      Just who has the advantage when a PED pitcher competes against a PED batter?

  6. paperlions - Nov 25, 2013 at 12:06 AM

    Bill, you left out the most obvious options which apply to almost every player.

    Use PEDs, nothing, get exactly the same contract you would have whether you used them or not.

    Don’t use PED’s, nothing, probably get the exactcly same contract whether you used them or not.

    The assumption that only players that use PEDs get big contracts is, well, stupid. The assumption that PEDs have a huge effect on player performance remains an assumption, because the data don’t indicate that they have a huge effect. Any effect they do have is so inconsistent or small as to be undetectable thus far.

    • bfunk1978 - Nov 25, 2013 at 12:08 AM

      Way more eloquent than what I wrote. Well done.

  7. pastabelly - Nov 25, 2013 at 12:47 AM

    If using PEDs didn’t work, nobody would use them. At least none of us will have to hear about “the Cardinal Way” anymore.

    • Kevin S. - Nov 25, 2013 at 1:02 AM

      If wearing titanium power balance bracelets/necklaces didn’t work, nobody would wear them.

      Baseball players aren’t always the sharpest tools in the shed.

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Nov 25, 2013 at 3:56 AM

        Kevin, I laughed out loud, albeit quietly as it is late. Have you also noticed how many of them point to the sky when they get a big hit or save a game, but, strangely, they never do that when they foul out or drop a pop fly?

      • louhudson23 - Nov 25, 2013 at 4:17 AM

        The consequences of wearing give away gimmicks and performing superstitious acts are not the equivalent of the consequences of using PED’s. Nor has anyone destroyed the record books over the course of a fifteen year period by wearing a necklace…,,small parks and hard baseballs are still here, so where did all the HR’s go???

      • paperlions - Nov 25, 2013 at 7:37 AM

        Lou:

        Small ball barks are not still here. Over the last 12 years nearly every new ballpark has build (over 10 of them) has been pitcher friendly, many of them extremely so.

        The strike zone has been getting bigger and bigger since the advent of Pitch FX as umpires have corrected the way they call the zone to more closely match what it really is.

        We don’t know the current composition of baseballs (it isn’t their hardness, but the elasticity of the core and the amount of synthetic fibers, which don’t absorb as much water as natural fibers, used in the wind). Baseball doesn’t typically go around announcing that they changed the ball composition.

        When PED testing began, power numbers were unaffected. They didn’t go down until several years later.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 25, 2013 at 8:08 AM

        so where did all the HR’s go???

        They are still there, but the contact rate is far lower than before. In tl;dr terms, players are striking out too much; however, if they made contact with the ball, they are hitting HR’s at the same rate as during the PED heyday.

        We’re basically now at one full calendar year with home run rates at the same level as they were about 10 years ago. They’re definitely not back to the peak levels of 2000 (league HR/9 was 1.18), but this quantity of home runs lines up pretty well with a bunch of years from the “steroid era”.

        And in terms of measuring the actual change in power, we need to adjust for the real significant change in baseball over the last 20 years – the continuing and increasing rate of strikeouts. K% is at an all-time high again this year, up a full point over last year’s record high. Now at 19.6%, the average strikeout rate in Major League Baseball is having a significant depressing effect on run scoring, and is the primary reason that league offense is still down despite the return of some home runs.

        http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/home-runs-have-made-their-return-to-mlb/

    • bfunk1978 - Nov 25, 2013 at 8:58 AM

      The Cardinal Way survived McGwire, no?

      Bernie Miklasz covered that on Sunday quite well. http://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/bernie-miklasz/article_a9b51076-3237-54d7-99b0-809d29aaf796.html

      • paperlions - Nov 25, 2013 at 9:09 AM

        Yeah, Bernie makes a great point about what “The Cardinal Way” actually is….hint, it has nothing to do with morality or “playing the game the right way”, all it is, is a systematic approach for trying to be better at baseball.

  8. apkyletexas - Nov 25, 2013 at 12:51 AM

    I personally see no reason to protect the d-bag owners from their own spending idiocy.

    I say go the opposite direction – if a guy gets caught PED’ing, require that his next contract not be allowed to have any language allowing for a suspension of pay if he gets caught PED’ing and suspended again. Let the owners eat their own idiot contracts for breakfast. A “buyer beware” league would be a much better league.

    Maybe the idiot billionaires would be forced to think twice before signing a confirmed PED’er, or before signing a confirmed wife-beater or drunk driver (if the same language were applied to their contracts).

  9. Anoesis - Nov 25, 2013 at 1:25 AM

    Allow the player to continue drawing his pay while suspended. The club cannot use his services, yet still must pay the contract. Either that or just institute a lifetime ban upon the first positive test. S#*t or get off the pot.

  10. xjokerz - Nov 25, 2013 at 1:59 AM

    Peraltas PED’s were based on him being on a LIST 3 years ago…

    Rosenthal hates all tigers / old tiger players, doesn’t surprise me he would be so stupid with his remarks

    should the same question be asked about DAVID ORTIZ who actually FAILED a test?

    jw

    • dan1111 - Nov 25, 2013 at 5:51 AM

      Peralta was on a list of people who bought steroids, did not contest his suspension for steroid use, and issued an apology over his behavior.

      On the other hand, an anonymous source claimed that Ortiz was on a list of players who tested positive. The test was of unknown rigor, and it is not known what he tested positive for. Several substances that were not banned in baseball at the time were included.

      There is a reason Peralta was suspended and Ortiz was not.

      • xjokerz - Nov 25, 2013 at 6:47 AM

        it was a list THREE years ago…never tested positive .. yeah.. he took the suspension probably bc he didnt want to be dragged through the mud like MLB did with Arod.

        how can you defend yourself when major league baseball can so easily deem you guilty.

      • dan1111 - Nov 25, 2013 at 8:26 AM

        @xjokerz, just to be clear: are you saying that Peralta never took PEDs? Then why did he apologize for it?

      • markb2301 - Nov 25, 2013 at 3:30 PM

        This isn’t accurate re: Peralata. His name was found amongst Bosch’s notes, but he was not directly linked to PEDs in those notes. Given that baseball had a raging hard-on for Braun and A-Rob and anyone who might even have a whiff of PED stuff in their past, it makes sense, from a PR standpoint, to simply apologize, take the suspension, and look to put it behind you instead of going through a messy arbitration (which, even if you win, will just lead to more problems a la Braun).

        I’m not saying Peralta did not use steroids. I have no idea what he did or did not use (nor does MLB, to be fair). But if I were his agent, I would’ve advised him to do exactly what he did: issue a mea culpa, come back for the playoffs, and look to sign a big contact in the off season with the suspension served. I do know that if he had uncertainty hanging over his head regarding a possible suspension, there’s almost no chance he gets such a lucrative deal.

      • markb2301 - Nov 25, 2013 at 3:32 PM

        (And just ignore my spelling mistakes… good lord.)

  11. xjokerz - Nov 25, 2013 at 3:08 AM

    why am i getting thumbs down?, peralta NEVER failed a test…yet this story gets brought up bc Peralta signed a contract?

    what about Melky Cabrera? … what about Brauns FATTTT contract

    and lets not forget, Kenny boy is a Boston Redsux slurpee, like i said..why is this NEVER Brought up for David Ortiz? that fatso FAILED a test..yet when the sox sign him its no biggie

    i wonder why that is.

    • louhudson23 - Nov 25, 2013 at 4:25 AM

      Neither did Lance Armstrong. Armstrong showed the fallacy of depending entirely upon testing to catch PED users. It can no longer be assumed that a lack of failed tests is an indication of being clean. Chronicling the associations with known PED gurus and other circumstantial evidence are now part of the deal. It is clear enough.Stay away,far away from shady labs,Doctors,advisors, etc….There are more than enough approved clinics,trainers,supplements etc….these guys play in the back alleys,they get busted….a test is just one aspect of detection,reasonably and contractually….

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 25, 2013 at 8:12 AM

        Neither did Lance Armstrong. Armstrong showed the fallacy of depending entirely upon testing to catch PED users. It can no longer be assumed that a lack of failed tests is an indication of being clean.

        Can we stop bringing up Lance Armstrong, especially if you don’t know the intricacies of his case? The team doctor was helping with the doping. He failed a test and paid off a French lab to hide the results. He partook in an entirely different form of doping that left the system within days, which is nothing like the PEDs players are using in baseball. Those PEDs had an elaborate scientific angle that required doctors to help administer, not just shooting a needle in your butt.

    • 18thstreet - Nov 25, 2013 at 7:50 AM

      Anyone calling Ortiz fat hasn’t been watching baseball for a while.

      • yahmule - Nov 25, 2013 at 9:41 AM

        Yeah, there’s plenty of other stuff to call him.

  12. bh192012 - Nov 25, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    1st time: 50 games + 25 the next year + 13 the next year
    2nd time: 100 games + 50 the next year + 25 the next year
    3rd time: 150 games + 75 the next year + 38 the next year

    Or something to that effect should effect their future contracts. Not sure about those specific numbers, but something along those lines could help. Equivilant portions of their salary should be deducted and go to some steroid abuse charity. Also I think if you test positive (or get busted some other way) it should elevate you into a different schedule of more rigorous testing.

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