What to do about HGH? How about legalizing it?

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HGH.jpgEconomist (and Braves fan) J.C. Bradbury thinks the best way to deal with the scourge of HGH is to simply allow anyone who wants to use it to do so.

It’s an Insider article so many of you can’t see it, but Bradbury’s upshot is that (a) there is almost a total lack of evidence that HGH actually enhances performance on its own; (b) there is no way to distinguish any benefits it may itself confer upon an athlete from those confered by any steroids with which it is commonly mixed; (c) since blood tests for HGH are unreliable and invasive, and since we can already detect the steroid mixers with urine tests, why bother?; and (d) if you legalize HGH it will send the message to players that it really doesn’t do anything for them, and they will thus be more inclined to steer clear of it and, consequently, its negative side effects.

I’m a big fan of legalization of all manner of things that currently aren’t, and I agree with Bradbury that prohibition may have a glamorizing effect on what would otherwise be a drug that athletes bypass. But I also worry that these are ballplayers we’re talking about, and that they may not respond to prohibition/legalization incentives the way most people do. Ballplayers don’t change their underwear if they go on a hitting streak. They fear stepping on chalk lines. Might they not simply go crazy on HGH if it were legalized the same way Wade Boggs went crazy on pre-game chicken dinners?

Still, Bradbury’s is an idea worth thinking about.  If married with a strong, consistent message that (a) HGH is not an effective PED; and (b) it can be bad for you in high dosages, such a plan could work.  I just worry that too much time and energy has been invested in making it out to be a wonder drug and cure-all by everyone that truthful messages about its risks and efficacy would fall on deaf ears.

Colby Rasmus could start 2017 on the disabled list

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Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.

Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.

The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.

Report: Rangers agree to six-year extension with Rougned Odor

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The Rangers have reportedly agreed to a six-year, $49.5 million extension for second baseman Rougned Odor, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The extension comes with a club option for a seventh year, Heyman adds.

It’s close to the six-year, $52.5 million extension Jason Kipnis netted with the Indians in 2014, a sum Odor was rumored to be seeking during contract negotiations over the last two years. Granted, the circumstances are a little different this time around. Both players signed extensions on the cusp of their fourth year in the major leagues, but at 27 years old, Kipnis was coming off of an All-Star campaign and a career-high 4.5 fWAR performance. Odor, meanwhile, saw mixed results in 2016, batting 33 home runs and putting up 2.0 fWAR while struggling to stay consistent at the plate and exhibiting poor defense.

According to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan, Odor previously agreed to a $563,180 salary for 2017. Depending on when the extension kicks in, it should cover all three of Odor’s arbitration-eligible seasons and two seasons of potential free agency. The team has yet to confirm the extension.