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 Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.
The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.
For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.
The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.
St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.
The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.
Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?
Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.