A source familiar with the Biogenesis investigation tells HardballTalk that Major League Baseball plans to interview all of the players implicated in the Biogenesis scandal by the end of June. Then, at that point, it will make a decision on whether to pursue discipline and how. The plan is for discipline to be leveled — if it is, indeed, leveled — by the first week of July. Pursuant to the Joint Drug Agreement players will then have the right to appeal if discipline is imposed.
This information confirms ESPN’s Outside the Lines report from last night that Major League Baseball’s investigation of Biogenesis is proceeding. However, any speculation that Major League Baseball has already decided to discipline the players implicated in the Biogenesis scandal or that it has already decided to impose any specific penalties, be they 50- or 100-game suspensions, was premature. The league’s investigation is being assisted by clinic founder Tony Bosch, the source confirmed.
When contacted by HardballTalk, Major League Baseball officials did not comment on the story.
Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees, 2011 NL MVP Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers and Melky Cabrera of the Toronto Blue Jays – who received a 50-game suspension last season for the use of PEDs – are among the 20 players reportedly being targeted by MLB.
Braun issued a stern denial this morning, while Cabrera told USA Today Sports: “I don’t know anything about it. This is the first I hear of it. If they suspend me again, I think that would be a harsh punishment because I already served my sentence. But it’s up to them.”
Rodriguez, once considered a threat to break the sport’s all-time home run record, admitted to ESPN four years ago that he used performance-enhancing drugs earlier in his career, when he played for the Texas Rangers.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.
ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported over the weekend that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop agreed to a contract extension. He’ll remain with the Cubs through 2018 and the new deal includes a club option for the 2019 season as well. Per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Strop will earn $5.85 million in 2018 and the club option is worth $6.25 million with a $500,000 buyout. The two sides already avoided arbitration earlier this month, agreeing on a $5.5 million salary for the 2017 season.
Strop, 31, has been a very reliable reliever for the Cubs over the last three years. He has a combined 2.65 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 69 walks over 176 1/3 innings in that span of time.
The Cubs replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis, so Strop and Hector Rondon will be bridging the gap to Davis this coming season.
Strop joined the Cubs along with Jake Arrieta in the July 2013 trade that sent Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. That trade panned out well for the Cubs.