Skip to content

Let’s pump the brakes on the “PED use got Jhonny Peralta his big deal” talk

Nov 25, 2013, 7:43 AM EST

jhonny peralta getty Getty Images

With a respectful nod to Ken Rosenthal, our own Bill Baer and the players who have taken to Twitter in the past couple of days to talk about Jhonny Peralta, may I ask why everyone seems to think that Peralta’s new contract represents some sort of problem with the drug penalty system in baseball and the incentives that flow therefrom? Because from where I’m sitting, it’s way more complicated than that.

I get the superficial appeal of the argument that goes “Peralta got busted for PEDs and then he gets a four-year, $52 million deal. What’s up with that?!” But that argument totally ignores the nature of the current free agent market to begin with.

Here’s a shocking idea: Jhonny Peralta got a big crazy free agent contract, not because he used PEDs, thereby messing up the incentive system, but because everyone in free agency is getting a big crazy free agent contract these days.

Those shaking their heads at Peralta say things like “clearly the current drug penalties are not hurting players’ market value.” But if you swap in phrases like “being hurt,” “being average” or “severely underperforming expectations” for “the current drug penalties” it explains current reality too. Dan Haren is coming off two injury-plagued and often ineffective years and he got $10 million. Jason Vargas got four-years, $32 million as a back-of-the-rotation starter. Tim Hudson has been pretty bad and got two-years, $23 million. Carlos Ruiz got three-years, $26 million. Why isn’t anyone talking about how their deals are confounding the incentive system that’s supposed to be in place?

Probably because they’re not. They’re getting what the market — currently flush with billions of dollars in new broadcast dollars and vanishingly small ways for teams to spend money on amateur and international signings — allows. Look around at the crop of shortstop talent in Major League Baseball at the moment and tell me that talent isn’t hard to come by. Then tell me that Peralta’s deal has more to do with him being a PED user than him simply being a good shortstop in a weak shortstop market who happened to hit free agency at the right time.

The fact that a team — a smart team, by the way — is spending serious money on Jhonny Peralta right now is because he’s in the market. Increase the ban to 100 games? Sure, maybe that would work for a guy whose ban coincided with his free agency, but it doesn’t always, or even often, work that way. Say a guy gets a ban in the second year of his three year deal, comes back in year three and plays well prior to becoming a free agent. Say a player tests positive in the spring of his walk year, serves his 100 games and then comes back in late July and lights it up just before free agency. You think those guys are not going to get paid the following offseason? Of course they are. Because they’ll be active players with marketable skills and teams like to give those guys lots of money.

The only way totally eliminate the idea of guys who take PEDs from later getting paid is to give permanent bans for first offenses. But of course that’s crazy. It’d be an ultra-extreme response to a problem that no one has demonstrated calls for such a solution and which would likely end the careers of some players based on false positives or inadvertent ingestion of PEDs. And no one who grouses about Jhonny Peralta allegedly screwing with the incentive system would ever seriously make that argument, would they? I seriously doubt it.

Peralta got paid because he’s a good player at a position with scant available talent in a market that is paying through the nose for even ordinary talent. If that’s troublesome to you, you have a lot of things to worry about besides whether 50-game suspensions are sufficient to deter PED use.

Latest Posts
  1. Tommy Lasorda reads “Twas the Night Before Christmas”

    Dec 24, 2014, 10:00 PM EST

    mlb video

    A good way to finish off our Christmas Eve coverage on HardballTalk …

  2. Kenta Maeda re-signs with the Hiroshima Carp

    Dec 24, 2014, 8:04 PM EST

    kenta maeda getty Getty Images

    The sought-after 26-year-old right-hander has now officially re-signed with the Hiroshima Carp for the 2015 season, according to the Japan Times.

  3. Rockies sign outfielder Roger Bernadina

    Dec 24, 2014, 6:17 PM EST

    roger bernadina getty Getty Images

    Ben Badler of Baseball America reports that the Rockies have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with outfielder Roger Bernadina.

  4. What baseball team did people from Bedford Falls root for?

    Dec 24, 2014, 4:21 PM EST

    IAWL

    A toast to my big brother George: The richest man in town. Well, except for Mr. Potter. That guy is LOADED.

  5. The Braves and A.J. Pierzynski reach a one-year deal; first reported in a ham store

    Dec 24, 2014, 2:00 PM EST

    Ham

    No, really. The news broke on line at a Honeybaked Ham store.

  6. THE YEAR IN REVIEW: HBT’s most commented-upon stories of the year

    Dec 24, 2014, 1:00 PM EST

    megaphone

    Based on these results, no, we will not stick to baseball. Because you clearly don’t want us to.

  7. Orioles re-sign Delmon Young

    Dec 24, 2014, 12:02 PM EST

    Delmon Young Getty Images

    Buck Showalter found a way to get value out of Young in a part-time role.

  8. “There’s a decent chance” the Rays will trade Ben Zobrist

    Dec 24, 2014, 11:16 AM EST

    Ben Zobrist AP

    Zobrist has been a regular for the Rays since 2008.

  9. The average major league salary is up to $3.8 million

    Dec 24, 2014, 11:00 AM EST

    Money Bag

    Money don’t get everything it’s true. But what it don’t get, I can’t use

  10. The Yankees are treating Alex Rodriguez differently than they treated Derek Jeter. So what?

    Dec 24, 2014, 9:14 AM EST

    Jeter and A-Rod

    Dirty secret: baseball isn’t always about winning. Even when the Yankees are involved.

  11. Video: Nationals Park transforms into ice rink for next week’s 2015 Winter Classic

    Dec 23, 2014, 10:59 PM EST

    2015 winter classic logo

    “NHL Live” on NBC Sports Network ended a segment Tuesday night with this time-lapse video of Nationals Park being converted from a baseball field into an ice rink for next week’s 2015 NHL Winter Classic between the Washington Capitals and visiting Chicago Blackhawks …

  12. Padres ink Brett Wallace to minor league contract

    Dec 23, 2014, 9:44 PM EST

    brett wallace getty Getty Images

    As first reported by Matt Eddy of Baseball America, the Padres have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with first baseman Brett Wallace. The deal comes with an invitation to …

  13. Braves sign setup man Jason Grilli to two-year contract

    Dec 23, 2014, 8:31 PM EST

    jason grilli getty Getty Images

    From FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal comes word that the Braves have signed 38-year-old right-handed reliever Jason Grilli to a two-year, $8 million contract with a club option for 2017 …

  14. Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada expected to begin private workouts within two weeks

    Dec 23, 2014, 7:58 PM EST

    cuba hat

    19-year-old infield prospect Yoan Moncada defected from his native Cuba over the summer and was declared a free agent by Major League Baseball back in mid-November, but he is still waiting for official clearance from the United States’ Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) …

  15. Cubs announce two-year, $5 million deal with David Ross

    Dec 23, 2014, 6:23 PM EST

    david ross

    FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal was first to report that a deal was in place between the Cubs and veteran catcher David Ross, and now that agreement has been made official …

  16. Twins sign Tim Stauffer for $2.2 million

    Dec 23, 2014, 5:17 PM EST

    Tim Stauffer Getty Getty Images

    Minnesota adds a right-handed reliever.

  17. L.J. Mazzilli — Mets prospect and son of Lee Mazzilli — suspended 50 games for drugs

    Dec 23, 2014, 3:30 PM EST

    mets logo

    It was his second positive test for a “drug of abuse.”

  18. Marlins claim Preston Claiborne off waivers from Yankees

    Dec 23, 2014, 3:15 PM EST

    Preston Claiborne Yankees Getty Images

    Claiborne has held his own as a big leaguer with a 3.79 ERA and 58/24 K/BB ratio in 71 career innings through age 26.

Featured video

Cubs shore up rotation with Jon Lester
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. W. Myers (3943)
  2. J. Kang (3382)
  3. J. Upton (2914)
  4. C. McGehee (2858)
  5. W. Middlebrooks (2829)
  1. M. Kemp (2771)
  2. D. Ross (2465)
  3. T. Tulowitzki (2374)
  4. J. Johnson (2112)
  5. J. Peavy (2009)