As has been the case with every single positive PED test involving a notable player over the past several years, I have no doubt that in the coming days we’ll see some variation of the following from a baseball writer:
Baseball wants you to think its drug problems are gone, but they’re not. With this latest story we now know that it’s as if it were 1998 all over again. Everyone is cheating and juicing and if you think that what you’re seeing on the field is genuine, think again. Don’t let Bud Selig and Michael Weiner tell you that they have faith in the drug testing program. It’s all p.r. and it’s all bunk. We’re still in the Steroid Era.
I embellish, but only a little. We’ve all seen that sort of thing before and I assure you we’ll see it again.
But before you buy into that, go read Michael S. Schmidt’s report of this Miami business in the New York Times. In addition to the things we already know, Schmidt reports that the reason this all came to light in the first place was because of an MLB investigation into an employee of Melky Cabrera’s agents in the wake of his positive test last year.
The upshot: MLB caught a cheating player with testing. Its investigations arm got involved and sniffed out the baloney in his story. They dug deeper and made connections to past information they had on PED use but which was unactionable at the time. They brought in law enforcement to assist in the investigation. The heat from that investigation led to this information coming out, and now they’re pledging to investigate further, with possible discipline to follow.
Some people may look at all of this as evidence of some epidemic and Major League Baseball being asleep at the switch. I look at it as a pretty damn proactive and robust testing and investigative program doing the job it was set up to do. Maybe that doesn’t make baseball 100% clean, but nothing in society is. Heck, not even all sports is. When was the last time the NFL, NBA or NHL was seen as being on top of things with respect to performance enhancing drugs as Major League Baseball is? The most famous player in the Super Bowl just got linked to a banned PED today. We’ll hear little of this compared to the A-Rod business over the next week, I assure you.
Yet I expect people will still take their shots at MLB over all of this. They’re so used to doing it, it’s hard to stop.
After trading Ender Inciarte to the Braves as part of the Shelby Miller deal, Yasmany Tomas will go into 2016 as a regular in the Diamondbacks’ lineup. Signed to a six-year, $68.5 million contract in December of 2014, Tomas batted .273 with nine home runs and a .707 OPS over 426 plate appearances during his first season in the majors last year while struggling defensively between third base and right field. Third base is out as a possibility at this point, but the Diamondbacks are mulling over another defensive change for him.
According to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale said Friday that the club has discussed moving Tomas to left field and David Peralta to right.
“We’re definitely talking about it,” Hale said. “(Outfield coach) Dave McKay and I, (General Manager Dave Stewart) and (Chief Baseball Officer) Tony (La Russa), we think it might be best to switch them around.”
When the third base experiment flopped, the Diamondbacks put Tomas in right because they felt he would be the most comfortable there. The metrics weren’t kind to him. He’ll now have a full spring training to work on things if the club decides to make a change. Peralta isn’t the defender that Inciarte was, but he’s better than Tomas, so it’s understandable why the Diamondbacks would change their alignment.
Tomas is likely to be a liability no matter where he plays, but the Diamondbacks won’t mind as much if his bat begins to meet expectations. For a team with designs on the postseason, he’s a big key for this lineup.
The Associated Press is reporting that the Cubs and starter Jake Arrieta have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $10.7 million salary for the 2016 season. That marks the highest salary on a one-year deal for a pitcher with four years of service, the AP notes. Arrieta and the Cubs were set to go before an independent arbitrator but now can simply focus on the season ahead.
Arrieta, 29, is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He had filed for $13 million while the Cubs countered at $7.5 million. The $5.5 million gap was the largest among players who did not come to terms with their respective teams by the January deadline. The $10.7 million salary is $450,000 above the midpoint between the two submitted figures.
Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award for his performance this past season, narrowly edging out Zack Greinke, then with the Dodgers. Arrieta led the majors with 22 wins, four complete games, and three shutouts. With that, he compiled a 1.77 ERA and a 236/48 K/BB ratio across 229 innings.
Once a top prospect in the Orioles’ minor league system, Arrieta struggled in the majors but found immediate success with the Cubs in 2013 after the O’s traded him along with Pedro Strop in exchange for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman.
Per Baseball America’s Matt Eddy, the Giants have signed infielder Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal. Gillaspie was selected by the Giants in the supplemental round of the 2008 draft, then was traded to the White Sox in February 2013.
Gillaspie, 28, hit a meager .228/.269/.359 with four home runs and 24 RBI in 253 plate appearances between the White Sox and Angels during the 2015 season. Almost all of his playing time has come at third base but he can also play first base if needed.
The Giants, thin on depth, will allow Gillaspie to audition in spring training for a spot on the 25-man roster.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that free agent reliever Joe Nathan, recovering from Tommy John surgery, plans to pitch in 2016 according to his agent Dave Pepe. According to Pepe, Nathan’s workouts are “going well” and the right-hander is “definitely planning on playing this year.”
Nathan, 41, got the final out on Opening Day (April 6) against the Twins before going on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right elbow, causing him to miss the next 161 games. He will likely be able to contribute out of the bullpen in late May or early June if he has no setbacks. On a minor league deal or incentive-laden major league deal, Nathan could make for a low-risk gamble.
Over a 15-season career that dates back to 1999 (he did not pitch in the majors in 2001 or 2010), Nathan has 377 saves with a 2.89 ERA and a 967/340 K/BB ratio over 917 innings.