Alex Rodriguez Getty

MLB, feds investigating adviser to A-Rod and other players in PED probe


The New York Daily News reports that The Drug Enforcement Administration and Major League Baseball are investigating a Miami-area man named Anthony Bosch for possible links to performance-enhancing drugs.  The significance of Bosch: he has been an adviser on training, nutrition and dietary supplements to Alex Rodriguez and other Latin ballplayers in south Florida.

Bosch is not a new name to people who follow the PED news, as MLB first investigated Bosch and his father, Dr. Pedro Bosch, for their ties to Manny Ramirez back in 2009 when he first tested positive for PEDs when with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Pedro Bosch provided Ramirez the prescription for the female fertility drugs he was taking, and it was reported then that Ramirez had a relationship with Anthony Bosch, as did many other players.

The question I have is what’s new here?  We wrote about baseball and the feds’ interest in Pedro and Anthony Bosch here at HardballTalk back in 2009, wondering whether this wasn’t some “Latin American BALCO” situation. Nothing of note has been reported since then, but obviously MLB has had cause to focus more closely on Bosch now to inspire what the Daily News describes as “an ongoing probe.”

The story notes the rise of the use of synthetic testosterone and human growth hormone in Major League Baseball.  It’s possible, then, that new information has arisen connecting the Bosch family to the spike in use of these substances.  Which, based on positive test results anyway, have disproportionately implicated Latin ballplayers.  No one connected to the investigation is commenting, however, so it’s unclear.

One thing that is interesting, though, is the Daily News’ focus on A-Rod here.  While there is clearly a connection between Bosch and Rodriguez making reference to him totally legitimate, A-Rod has not tested positive for anything nor has he otherwise been tied to PEDs since his admission to prior use several years ago.  Does this suggest that his name may soon be connected to PEDs anew? Or is this just an instance of a New York paper leading with the big name to snag eyeballs?

Definitely worth watching going forward.

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.