“I have been interested in stiffer penalties for some time,” Selig said. “We’ve made meaningful adjustments to our testing and it is time to make meaningful adjustments to our penalties.”
Selig said last season there were only five positive tests of the more than 5,000 that were conducted. The new penalties are intended to deter the small number of those who still don’t see the current penalties as harsh enough.
“I don’t know if we can ever get to zero; there will always be somebody out there,” Selig said. “For a very small percentage of people it hasn’t served for as much of a deterrent as I think it should.”
MLB’s more stringent drug punishments have been cited as one large reason why offense began to decline starting in 2010. The average Major League team averaged 4.61 runs per game in 2009, but it dropped to 4.38, 4.28, and 4.32 in the following three years. Home run rates from 2007-12 are at their lowest rates since the early 1990’s.
Selig’s wish for harsher penalties for positive drug tests is curious given that, as the ESPN article mentions, very few players are testing positive. At some point, you get diminishing returns cranking up the dial on suspension lengths and fine amounts. And it looks silly in comparison to the biggest of shrugs MLB gives to alcohol abuse — Philadelphia’s Delmon Young was suspended a mere seven games without pay when he was charged with third-degree assault and an aggravated harassment hate crime last year.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.
With the Braves on the cusp of formalizing their one-year deal with Kurt Suzuki, the market for free agent catcher Matt Wieters is dwindling. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick references an inside source that lists the Angels, Rockies and Reds as potential suitors for the 30-year-old’s services.
Wieters is coming off of an eight-year career with the Orioles. In 2016, he played through his first full year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014 and batted .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and a .711 OPS in 464 PA. A return to Baltimore in 2017 isn’t out of the question, Crasnick writes, citing some within the team that would be open to Wieters stepping into a DH role and catching platoon with Wellington Castillo. However, he also points out that the front office appears divided on the veteran catcher, and sees the Orioles as a long shot for the foreseeable future.
The Angels have already been tied to Wieters this offseason, while the Rockies and Reds don’t appear to have made any formal inquiries so far. Both could use a veteran presence behind the dish, as the Rockies are planning to platoon rookie catcher Tom Murphy with 24-year-old Tony Wolters in the spring. The Reds, meanwhile, are banking on a quick recovery for 28-year-old Devin Mesoraco, who missed most of the 2016 season after undergoing shoulder and hip surgery and forced the club to rely almost exclusively on back-up backstop Tucker Barnhart.