Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Marlins catcher Ronny Paulino has been suspended 50 games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
Numerous minor leaguers have been suspended for PED usage this year, but Paulino and Edinson Volquez are the only major leaguers to get the 50-game ban. Last season Manny Ramirez and J.C. Romero were two big leaguers suspended.
Paulino began this season as the Marlins’ backup catcher, but was forced into the lineup thanks to John Baker’s elbow injury and has started 84 of the team’s 120 games while hitting .259/.311/.354 with four homers in 344 plate appearances.
Baker is slated to return from the disabled list by the end of this month and in the meantime the Marlins will likely lean on 26-year-old rookie Brett Hayes as their primary backstop. And because there are only 42 games remaining on the Marlins’ schedule, Paulino’s suspension will carry over to the first eight games of next season.
UPDATE: Paulino issued a statement saying that he tested positive for “a dietary pill” used “to control my weight this season.” He also apologized:
I recently learned that the dietary pill contained a substance banned under Major League Baseball’s drug policy. I am ashamed and saddened for disappointing and distracting my family, my teammates, the entire Florida Marlins’ organization, and baseball fans. My heartfelt and most sincere apology.
I accept full responsibility and all consequences for this mistake and therefore, choose not to challenge my suspension. I was irresponsible for failing to take all precautionary steps in confirming the approval of the dietary pill. Without a doubt, I have learned from my mistake.
I know we’ll all sleep better tonight knowing Ronny Paulino and his gut are off the street. Or something.
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.
Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.
The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.
Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.
The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.
Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.
Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.
The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.
While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.