One thing that is clear from the Ryan Braun suspension is that it was, in some form or another, the product of horse trading. A settlement of sorts given how both sides got something good out of this, all things considered.
But there is still an open question here: is this considered Braun’s first offense? Second? Is it off that paradigm altogether? Where in the heck are we now, and what in the heck happens if Braun dances with the PED devil at some point in the future?
The uncertainty stems from not just the punishment, but from the statements of Michael Weiner last week when he said that “just cause” punishment is not subject to the 50-100-life scale. That did not seem to jibe with the words of the JDA which seemed to include that scale in both testing positives and just cause situations, but that is what the man said. And, at least based on the number of games, that’s what Braun got.
It’s likely that other Biogenesis players will get similar deals (or punishments, depending on your point of view). Are they outside of the 50-100-life thing too? Or does this count as a first offense and the next one counts for 100 games? And what if the deal, say, in the case of A-Rod, is 103 games? Where do we go from there? How does the standard apply?
This is not a theoretical question. This set of circumstances could happen again. Or, like Manny Ramirez, we could have “retirements” that are rescinded followed by reductions in discipline. As time goes on the system is going to get messier and messier with precedent, as all systems do.
In light of that, I feel it’s important for Major League Baseball to clarify how the Biogenesis suspensions fit into the overall discipline regime of the JDA. For a system to work it has to have transparency. And, though it’s pretty clearly necessitated by the murkiness of the Biogenesis case, at the moment we’re lacking some transparency.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.