New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox

Robinson Cano, Scott Boras shoot down PED test rumor


Yesterday afternoon rumors began popping up all over Twitter that Robinson Cano had tested positive for PEDs and had a suspension looming.  Cano and his agent Scott Boras forcefully shot that down yesterday:

“Not at all,” Cano told The News. “There’s no test or anything.”

Cano’s agent, Scott Boras, also told The News that the rumors were baseless. He said his office had traced the allegation to a rumor that originated in the Dominican Republic, a reporter in the U.S. and a rival agent who has been saying that a prominent Latin player has been mired in baseball’s appeals process.

I have no idea what rival agent he’s referring to, but the reporter in question was Dan Tordjman of WSOC TV in Charlotte, North Carolina.  He took to Twitter yesterday and reported that Cano had tested positive and that Major League Baseball was going to make an announcement to that effect later in the day.  The catch: he didn’t actually have any information about it besides that rumor Boras mentioned and, indeed, said in his tweets that the information was “unconfirmed.” Several reporters who do cover the Yankees immediately spoke with the team or the player and found it to be baseless.

Which makes one wonder why in the hell Tordjman was reporting it.  I realize this territory is sort of tricky and the line between news and gossip is often blurry. But it strikes me as one thing to note an explosive rumor is floating around (i.e. “there are rumors that a big star has a PED test and may be suspended soon”) and another thing altogether to hear the rumor, make a specific report on it — “Cano to be suspended later today”– and all the while claiming “hey, maybe it’s not true!”  I think that when the rumor in question is about something serious and something which can impact someone’s reputation like a drug test — as opposed to say some random trade rumor — far more caution and at least some sort of confirmation from a source in question is essential.

As it was, Tordjman was actually on Twitter asking random people with no connection to the Yankees or Cano if they had heard anything more specific about it.  I’d show you the tweets now, but between yesterday and today Tordjman locked his Twitter feed.  Probably a good move on his part.

The kicker about all of this is that, given the nature of the process — a player who tests positive has an appeals process during which a few people know about it but the rest of the public does not — the ground for rumors like this is terribly fertile. Indeed, we saw a hint of this with the Melky Cabrera suspension when word of it circulated prior to the announcement.  So it’s entirely possible that, in the future, word of a positive PED test will come out like this.

If it does, however, one would hope that the people who hear it are at least trying to see if it checks out beforehand with someone in a position to know and reports it with the skepticism and caution such matters deserve.

Braves sign Bud Norris to one-year contract

Bud Norris

Bud Norris has found a home for his attempt at a bounceback season, signing a one-year deal with the Braves. Jon Heyman of says it’s worth $2.5 million, which is a huge cut from his $8.8 million salary this year.

Norris had established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter from 2009-2014, but had a brutal 2015 season split between the Orioles and Padres with a 6.72 ERA in 83 innings and a late-season move to the bullpen.

In announcing the signing the Braves referred to Norris as a starting pitcher, so joining the rotation for a rebuilding team gives him a chance to get his career back on track with an eye on hitting the open market as a free agent again next offseason. And if he fares well, the Braves could use him to add a prospect or two at the trade deadline.

The Cubs acquire Rex Brothers from the Rockies

Rex Brothers Rockies

The number of people who, if you held a gun to their head, would say that “Rex Brothers” was a game show host and/or local TV news personality from the late 1970s or early 80s is not insignificant. But if you’re a Rockies fan or if spend all day thinking about baseball you know that he’s a reliever who has played in Colorado for the past five years. Now you know him as a reliever for the Cubs:

Brothers — a former Best Shape of His Life All-Star — was pretty good until he hit a brick wall in 2014 and spent most of 2015 in Triple-A. He had something of a bounceback after being called up when rosters expanded in September, but that’s not the sort of thing to excite anyone. He could be useful for the Cubs or just spring training cannon fodder and organizational depth.

Cabrera just turned 18 a couple of weeks ago and pitched a grand total of 14 games in the Dominican Summer League. He’s young and was a $250,000 signee from the Dominican as a 16-year-old so, by definition, he’s a project. Worth giving up Rex Brothers for him if you’re the Rockies, worth risking for some depth in the pen if you’re the Cubs.

Diamondbacks hire Dave Magadan as hitting coach

Dave Magadan Rangers
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Steve Gilbert of reports that the Diamondbacks’ new hitting coach is Dave Magadan, who “parted ways” with the Rangers last month after three years filling the same role in Texas.

Magadan also previously was the Red Sox’s hitting coach and his teams have generally done pretty well, including the Rangers scoring the third-most runs in the league this year.

He’ll have plenty of talent to work with in Arizona, as the Diamondbacks scored the second-most runs in the league led by Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, and David Peralta. Turner Ward, who had been Arizona’s hitting coach, chose to leave the team two weeks ago.

A’s reacquire Jed Lowrie in trade with Astros

Jed Lowrie

Jed Lowrie, who was traded from the Astros to the A’s in 2013 and then re-signed with the Astros as a free agent last offseason, has now been traded back to the A’s.

Lowrie got a three-year, $23 million deal from the Astros with the idea that he’d play shortstop in the first season and then move to another position whenever stud prospect Carlos Correa arrived. Instead he got hurt right away, Correa became an immediate star, and the Astros weren’t so keen on paying him $15 million over the next two seasons.

He could resume playing shortstop for the A’s, who watched rookie Marcus Semien make an absurd number of errors there this year. Lowrie hit .271 with a .738 OPS in two seasons in Oakland, which is similar to his career totals and makes him a solidly above-average offensive shortstop. There’s a decent chance the A’s will have a Lowrie-Lawrie double-play duo in 2016.

In return the Astros get minor leaguer Brendan McCurry, a 24-year-old right-hander who split 2015 between high Single-A and Double-A with a 1.86 ERA and 82/17 K/BB ratio in 63 relief innings. He was a 22nd-round draft pick in 2014 and doesn’t have exceptional raw stuff, but McCurry’s numbers are incredible so far.