A source familiar with the Biogenesis investigation tells HardballTalk that if Alex Rodriguez and Major League Baseball are unable to reach a settlement in connection with the Biogenesis matter, Major League Baseball will suspend Rodriguez for life. Previous reports have only suggested such a move is possible.
A lifetime ban would almost certainly cause Rodriguez to appeal the discipline. HardballTalk’s source says that Major League Baseball is aware that the arbitrator who would hear the matter – Fredric Horowitz – may not uphold a lifetime ban in light of the fact that Rodriguez has never been subject to discipline for PEDs before and because going all the way to baseball’s most severe sanction would be extreme for first-time discipline. The league believes, however, that even if he were successful in having his sanction reduced on appeal, Rodriguez would ultimately be given a severe suspension, on par with what it is currently offering Rodriguez: 150 games or greater. The league is confident that Rodriguez would not prevail on the basic matter of culpability if he appealed.
Major League Baseball was unable to comment, citing the pendency on the ongoing investigation. Rodriguez’s attorney, David Cornwell, did not return calls seeking comment.
The source says that Major League Baseball is unwilling to agree to a suspension of Rodriguez in the 100-game range, demanding much more time off, even in the context of a settlement. The league, according to the source, believes that it has “compelling evidence” of significant malfeasance on Rodriguez’s part, including use of performance enhancing drugs, steering other players who sought to take PEDs to the Biogenesis clinic and his attempts to obtain and possibly destroy evidence from the Biogenesis clinic. Rodriguez and his attorneys, the source says, strongly dispute allegations of steering players to Biogenesis and attempting to destroy evidence.
The source says that, those disputes aside, Rodriguez is “in for a world of hurt.”
The source says that discipline is most likely to be leveled against Rodriguez, be it in the form of a settled-on or unilaterally-imposed sanction on Friday. Major League Baseball is expected to announce discipline for all of the other players connected to Biogenesis on that day as well.
The Rangers and Yankees, Dodgers and Brewers, as well as the Twins and White Sox kicked off Thursday’s schedule with some afternoon games. Eight evening games are left on the schedule, highlighted by the Giants and Athletics. As mentioned earlier, the Giants are intentionally giving up the DH to allow Madison Bumgarner to hit for himself. The Indians will go for their 13th consecutive win.
The Orioles will not just try to win their eighth consecutive game on Thursday, but also to match or surpass the all-time record for home runs in a single month. The 1987 Orioles and the 1999 Mariners both hit 59 home runs. The 2016 O’s have belted 55 dingers, so they’ll need four to tie and five to set the new record. The Orioles, who lead the majors in homers with 124 as a team, have hit four-plus home runs 10 times in 77 games, and five-plus homers four times. So, as powerful as the Orioles are, it’s still not likely they’ll be setting the new record. If it’s any consolation, they have already tied the June record for home runs with 55, matching the 1996 Athletics.
Taijuan Walker will toe the slab for the Mariners while Chris Tillman goes for the Orioles in a 10:10 PM EDT start at Safeco Field. Walker has never given up more than three home runs in a start.
The rest of Thursday’s action…
Cincinnati Reds (Brandon Finnegan) @ Washington Nationals (Gio Gonzalez), 7:05 PM EDT
Cleveland Indians (Carlos Carrasco) @ Toronto Blue Jays (R.A. Dickey), 7:07 PM EDT
Chicago Cubs (John Lackey) @ New York Mets (Steven Matz), 7:10 PM EDT
Detroit Tigers (Jordan Zimmermann) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Jake Odorizzi), 7:10 PM EDT
Miami Marlins (Wei-Yin Chen) @ Atlanta Braves (Mike Foltynewicz), 7:10 PM EDT
Kansas City Royals (Chris Young) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Mike Leake), 7:15 PM EDT
San Francisco Giants (Madison Bumgarner) @ Oakland Athletics (Dillon Overton), 10:05 PM EDT
According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Rays starter Matt Moore has drawn trade interest from the Rangers and more are expected to join the pursuit as we get closer to the August 1 non-waiver trade deadline.
Moore, 27, doesn’t exactly have elite numbers, but he has pitched much better as of late after ending the month of May with a 5.31 ERA. Over the last month, he has lowered that ERA to 4.67 with a 90/28 K/BB ratio in 96 1/3 innings. The lefty returned from Tommy John surgery last season, but the results weren’t there, either.
Moore has a club option for each of the next three seasons, worth $7 million, $9 million, and $10 million progressively with respective buyouts of $2.5 million, $1 million, and $750,000.
Update #2 (3:18 PM EDT): The Dodgers are also receiving minor league outfielder Ian Toscano, a player to be named later, and cash considerations, per the Braves’ official announcement.
Update (3:00 PM EDT):
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Dodgers have acquired starter Bud Norris from the Braves. Joel Sherman of the New York Post confirms the deal. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the Braves will receive two as yet unknown prospects from the Dodgers.
The Dodgers placed ace Clayton Kershaw on the disabled list on Thursday, adding to their long list of pitching woes. It was reported that they were actively searching for starting pitching help from outside the organization and it didn’t take them long to strike a deal.
Norris, 31, has an uninspiring 4.22 ERA, but he has pitched very well since moving back into the Braves’ rotation on June 4. In five starts, he has given up only seven runs (2.15 ERA) on 21 hits and eight walks with 29 strikeouts in 29 1/3 innings.
Norris is owed the remainder of his $2.5 million salary for the 2016 season. He can become a free agent after the season.
The Braves have signed infielder Omar Infante to a minor league contract, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The Royals designated Infante for assignment last week, then released him after he cleared waivers.
Infante, 34, hit a disappointing .239/.279/.321 with 10 extra-base hits in 149 plate appearances with the Royals this season. That’s on the back of a .552 OPS last year and .632 the season prior. While Infante is likely done being a productive everyday player, the Braves could use help up the middle, so it’s a low cost minor upgrade for a last-place team.