Jose Rijo: really underrated pitcher. Also: he’s had a hot mess of a post-playing career. The latest:
A prosecutor in the Dominican Republic says 1990 World Series MVP Jose Rijo has been charged with laundering money for a suspected drug trafficker.
Prosecutor Soraime Vargas says about 80 percent of the assets of fugitive drug suspect Avelino Castro were in Rijo’s name. Those assets allegedly include two hotels and a sports complex. Vargas announced money laundering charges against the former pitcher at a news conference Monday. Prosecutors asked a court to order Rijo to remain in the country but did not seek his arrest.
The drug suspect, by the way, is suspected of kidnapping and murdering people. And as the article says, he’s now a fugitive. Fugitives often need clean sources of money, so hey hey.
This has all been simmering since last September, by the way, when authorities first tried to question Rijo about it all but he kept refusing to show up. Then there was that bit a few years back when he was neck-deep in the international prospect shenanigans that brought down Jim Bowden in Washington.
He had nasty stuff back in the day. Now: more nastiness.
To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.
So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”
When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.
Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.