I spoke to a source with Major League Baseball this afternoon who tells me that MLB will investigate Curt Schilling’s claim on ESPN radio yesterday afternoon that a Boston Red Sox employee told him he should take PEDs when he was suffering from shoulder trouble in 2008.
The source did not say what, exactly, would be done, but it’s hard to see how any investigation of this claim does not begin with Schilling himself. Earlier today Schilling said he would not identify who told him to take PEDs in 2008. It will be interesting to see if he is any more forthcoming to the league.
Meanwhile, Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com spoke with a source who thinks Schilling is making a mountain out of a molehill:
… a source familiar with the situation said, “I’m sure if anyone said something like that, it wasn’t meant to be serious. I would bet my bottom dollar on that.”
Also this afternoon, Evan Drellich of MLB.com reported that team president/CEO Larry Lucchino said that the Boston Red Sox will look into the claim itself. As Schilling noted in his interview, however, the person is no longer employed by the Red Sox.
Baseball news has been dominated by drug stories for the past week and change. It looks like it will continue to be so dominated for a while longer. But it is worth observing that Major League Baseball seems as serious about investigating an allegation relating to team personnel and PEDs as it is in investigating players who allegedly used. Which is a good thing.
During the Pirates’ FanFest on Saturday, right-hander Gerrit Cole announced that he is back up to full health after being shut down with elbow inflammation in September. Per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Cole said he’ll start a throwing program on Monday as he works on regaining his form for the 2017 season.
The 26-year-old pitched through 116 innings for the Pirates in 2016, delivering a 3.88 ERA and 2.5 WARP before landing on the disabled list in June with a triceps strain and again in August with elbow inflammation. It was a steep drop for the right-hander, who saw a considerable spike in his ERA and BB/9 rate and struggled to strike out batters at the 8.7 mark he managed in 2015.
The upside? Inflammation was the worst of Cole’s issues in 2016, and while the newfound health issues didn’t help his case for an extension, a more serious injury doesn’t appear to be on the horizon.
The Astros, Braves and Nationals came sniffing around White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana during the Winter Meetings, but each appeared to find the Sox’ asking price well beyond what they were willing to give up for the starter. On Saturday, Peter Gammons revealed that the White Sox had floated Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker and Joe Musgrove as a possible return for Quintana.
It’s a strategy that worked well for Chicago in the past, most recently when they dealt Chris Sale to the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, among others, and flipped Adam Eaton to the Nationals for a trio of pitching prospects. Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow didn’t appear eager to sacrifice some of his core talent to net a high-end starter, however, and told the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan as much on Wednesday:
We’re prepared to trade players to improve our club right now. […] We’re just not prepared to trade away players that are core to our production in 2017, and those are sometimes the players that are required to get these deals done.
While Lunhow was speaking specifically to the inclusion of third baseman Alex Bregman in future deals, it’s not unrealistic to think that top prospects Francis Martes and Kyle Tucker would also be considered instrumental to the Astros’ plans for the next few seasons.
Martes, 21, currently sits atop the team’s top prospect list on MLB.com. The right-hander blazed through his first full season in Double-A Corpus Christi, posting a 3.30 ERA and career-best 9.4 K/9 over 125 1/3 innings in 2016. Tucker, meanwhile, profiles as the Astros’ second-best prospect and made a successful jump to High-A Lancaster last season, slashing .339/.435/.661 in 69 PA. Rookie right-hander Joe Musgrove is the only player left off the top prospect list, but he got off to a decent start with the club in 2016 as well, going 4-4 with a 4.06 ERA and 3.44 K/BB rate in 62 innings during his first major league season.