The Indians just had three recent signees from the Dominican Republic get suspended for pre-signing PED use. The team is as mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore. Indians’ scouting director John Mirabelli:
“I’ve got no sympathy for these guys. They broke the law. They
fraudulently tried to misrepresent their abilities to us to get a
higher signing bonus. They were all educated on this drug testing for a
long time . . . “We see a player, we evaluate him. We verbally agree on a contract. Then
we say you’re taking a drug test before we sign the contract. It’s an
added expense to the process, but we’re going to try and include our own
Given the investments involved the Indians are probably pretty smart to do this. These guys were apparently kind of dumb about the timing of it all, but you have to figure that there are a number of amateurs down there who juice up while being scouted, give teams an inflated sense of their strength and speed and then go off the stuff and reveal themselves to be lesser players once minor league testing kicks in.
The problem, of course, is that not all amateurs are going to fit that profile or, alternatively, may juice pre-signing but still wind up being fantastic players after they cycle off. Those guys may want to avoid the Indians — and maybe the “five or six other teams” who are doing this, according to the article — for fear of testing positive for PEDs. This, of course, would ultimately work to the benefit of teams who don’t test prior to signing.
I guess if I were the Indians and the handful of other team doing this, I’d push hard to get Major League Baseball as a whole to join in on a pre-signing testing regime rather than go it alone.
The Nationals are trying to go big this offseason, and FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal notes that they are still in trade talks for White Sox’ left-hander Chris Sale and Pirates’ center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Both players figure to command a big return, as Sale delivered another Cy Young-worthy performance in 2016 and, despite a downturn in his production rate, McCutchen is still one of the more coveted sluggers in the National League.
In 2016, Sale led the league in complete games, with six, and turned in a 3.34 ERA and 5.2 fWAR in 226 2/3 innings. While teams have been sniffing around the White Sox’ ace since the trade deadline, the club is expected to maintain a high asking price — so high, said FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, that it may keep the left-hander in Chicago for the foreseeable future.
According to Heyman, four other teams are reportedly in the mix for Sale, including the Red Sox, Astros, Rangers, and Braves, though parts of Rosenthal’s tweet hinted that the Red Sox were maintaining their interest in hopes of striking a more affordable deal. Should the Nationals pursue a deal for Sale, it’s likely that they’d have to move shortstop/center fielder Trea Turner, which they appear reluctant to do.
McCutchen, meanwhile, is also drawing interest around the league after batting .256/.336/.430 with 24 home runs in 675 PA during 2016. He didn’t appear to lose much power in his eighth season with the Pirates, but took considerably fewer walks and struck out at a career-high clip.
The Nationals were said to be in the lead for McCutchen on Thursday, and there was some expectation that the club would wrap up a trade for the center fielder by the non-tender deadline on Friday. FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi pointed out that the Rangers were also talking to the Pirates, however, and no deal has come to fruition as of yet.
The Astros have reportedly agreed to terms with free agent DH/outfielder Carlos Beltran for a one-year, $16 million contract, per ESPN’s Buster Olney. The deal includes a complete no-trade clause, according to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Beltran elected to return to the Astros after fielding offers from the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Red Sox. He appeared in Houston during the second half of 2004, batting .258/.368/.559 with 23 home runs in 399 PA and making his first postseason run to the tune of a .435 average and eight homers as the Astros battled their way through to a seven-game loss in the Championship Series. Beltran also played with Houston manager A.J. Hinch and bench coach Alex Cora in separate stints with the Royals and Mets, which the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan cited as possible influences in the Astros’ decision to pursue the free agent.
In 2016, Beltran split the season between the Yankees and Rangers after getting dealt at the deadline for a package of right-handed pitching prospects. He was stationed in right field for the majority of his time in New York, but was almost exclusively utilized as a designated hitter over 52 games in Texas. Between the two clubs, he batted an impressive .295/.337/.513 with 29 homers and earned his ninth career All-Star designation to boot.
The veteran slugger is expected to fill a similar role on the Astros, who need a full-time DH but could use some additional support in the outfield corner. Olney envisions a lineup with Beltran in the five-spot, per an earlier report: