Does PED use constitute fraud?

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Sticking with Buster this morning, he links to an article in which the guy who brought down BALCO — DEA/FDA agent Jeff Novitzky — is reported to be investigating PED use in cycling under a theory that cyclists were not just breaking drug laws but that, because their performance led to sponsorship deals and more money, they were also engaged in fraud.  By implementing a fraud theory I assume Novitzky would be able to widen his net and get warrants for financial information and other things that have little to do with the actual drug use of the athletes involved.

I’ll save my “holy crap, government agents with a thirst for investigative power like Jeff Novitzky has scare the bejesus out of me” rant for another day.  In the meantime, I’m struck by Olney’s thought on the matter:

It’s an interesting line of questioning, and you wonder if any threads
that are pulled lead to inquiries in baseball. A common refrain heard
among some baseball executives over the last five years is that, in
retrospect, some players used drugs to boost their performance in order
to improve their performance and win more money — and prizes. And some
executives have privately asked the same open-ended question: Does that
constitute fraud?

It’s an investigation into the past that baseball probably should keep
an eye on.

Perhaps. But it’s also a string that, if I were a baseball owner or executive, I wouldn’t pull.  Because, yes, there is a totally legitimate argument that baseball players unfairly reaped millions because steroids gave them a bunch of home runs and strikeouts they wouldn’t have otherwise gotten.  But if that’s true, there is just as legitimate an argument that baseball owners — all of whom knew steroids were everywhere — reaped billions as a result of the same behavior.

Whether it was merely a black chapter in baseball history or an out-and-out fraud, the Steroid Era was the product of many, many parties working together to make it happen.  To assume that only the players would fall under such a renewed investigation is naive.

Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto reportedly asks to be traded

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Craig Mish of MLB Network Radio is reporting that Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto has requested a trade out of Miami. Jon Heyman is characterizing it as Realmuto telling the team that he “wouldn’t mind” a trade.

Either way, Realmuto has no power to force a trade. This isn’t the NBA or something. Still, it’s evidence of just how dreary a prospect remaining in Miami is for Marlins veterans in the wake of trades that sent Giancarlo Stanton to New York, Marcell Ozuna to St. Louis.

Realmuto, who will turn 27 just before the 2018 season, hit .278/.332/.451 with 17 homers, 65 RBI, and eight steals over 141 games this past season. He only has three years of service time and is arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason. He made just $562K in the 2017 and will get a big raise this year, but he’s still going to be underpaid based on his production. If the Marlins wanted to trade him, they’d get a nice return. Why they would want to trade him, I have no idea.

Expect more of this sort of thing as the Marlins slash payroll and make it clear that their immediate priorities are more about saving money and less about winning baseball games. Which may or may not be a valid goal for the team’s new owners, but is certainly a letdown for baseball players and fans.