Michael Weiner: the union will try to persuade clearly guilty Biogenesis players to take a plea

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Please adjust your “the players union is only interested in protecting drug cheats” rhetoric appropriately. Because as Michael Weiner told the New York Daily News yesterday, that’s not the m.o. of his union with respect to the Biogenesis stuff:

“I can tell you, if we have a case where there really is overwhelming evidence, that a player committed a violation of the program, our fight is going to be that they make a deal,” Weiner said without referring to specific players. “We’re not interested in having players with overwhelming evidence that they violated the (drug) program out there. Most of the players aren’t interested in that. We’d like to have a clean program.”

One should assume that Weiner and the MLBPA will fight cases with which there are legitimate disputes as to culpability, and one should also assume that they will defend the due process rights of everyone involved, but the days where it’s 100% scorched-Earth between the league and the union are a long way in the rear-view mirror, so it shouldn’t be surprising that Weiner is taking a pragmatic approach here as well.

The interesting question will be if a player falls under Weiner’s “overwhelming evidence” category and still decides to fight. I presume he’d do so with his own legal team. And I presume the union would be issuing lots of awkward statements trying to both distance itself from the defense and respect the process.  But that will sure be hard after these statements.

Nick Williams has been trying to sell Jake Arrieta on the Phillies

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CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.

Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”

On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”

Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.

Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.