In case you missed it over the weekend, the feds have agreed not to appeal the ruling that investigators illegally seized a list of baseball players who allegedly tested positive for steroids back in 2004. Welcome news, even if it’s too late for Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Sammy Sosa and the other 101 players who still stand the risk of having their putatively anonymous employee drug tests released by whoever it was who leaked the other names. Because that person still has the list, of course.
Throughout this entire drama, a large number of baseball fans have demanded that all of the names of those who tested positive be released. “Release the names!” “Get it all out there!” “Clear the air!” they’ve cried, ignoring the fact that their “right” to know the drug test results of baseball players does not supersede the rights conferred by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. It has long been clear to me that such an approach is madness, because to do so would be to validate an illegal government search and would constitute a violation of players’ privacy rights. Now even the government agrees with this, and there is no one who matters in the relevant litigation who believes that the search was anything other than a gross abuse of governmental power.
So, given that even the feds now agree that the search was unconstitutional, is there anyone out there who still thinks the names should simply come out? If so, I’d love to hear the rationale. If you have one, be sure to explain how that rationale outweighs the Constitution. It would also help if you could explain why your employer shouldn’t release your employee drug tests to the media and the general public as well.
The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.
Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.
Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.
The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.