The two Biogenesis suspensions with the most on-field impact are easily the Rangers’ Nelson Cruz and the Tigers’ Jhonny Peralta. One leads his team in homers the other is his team’s starting shortstop. Both, assuming their suspensions start today, will be eligible to return for the playoffs if their teams make it there (Peralta could actually play the Tigers last three regular season games). The question is: will their teams allow them to return?
It’d be a less interesting question if Melky Cabrera didn’t happen last year. He was perhaps the Giants’ best hitter at the time of his suspension. Many believed — including some folks who happen to write for this august blog — that the Giants were sunk without him. Of course, all the Giants did was go out and win the friggin’ World Series with Melky watching from home.
The Rangers and Tigers are not so dumb that they’d likely see that as a cause/effect thing. In the aggregate you’re better off with good players on your team than without them on your team, so it’s not at all inconceivable that each of these miscreants is back in the dugout come October. But the factors which will go into the ultimate decision are likely numerous and varied and not all of them are based in terms of pure baseball analysis.
Whoever the Rangers put in right field — possibly Leonys Martin, who has been playing right while Cruz DH’s due to an injury — is likely to be a defensive improvement. The recently acquired Jose Iglesias is certain to be a defensive improvement over Peralta. The Tigers already have a lot of firepower in their lineup. While Cruz has been Texas’ biggest home run threat, the team has not been fantastic on offense overall. There are obviously team chemistry concerns at play, as many players on the roster are likely to either resent that their teammates cheated, resent that they didn’t appeal or both.
It’s complicated, in other words. And it’s doubtful that either the Rangers or Tigers will make up their minds until they’ve had several weeks to reassess their teams in light of the loss of their players.
Last summer we posted about Rafael Palmeiro coming out of retirement to play for the independent league Sugar Land Skeeters. The reason: to play a game with his boy Patrick. In that game the elder Palmeiro went 2-for-4 with an RBI, a walk, and a run scored. His son, who is now 26, went 2-for-4 with a grand slam.
Did that serve as an audition for Patrick? Possibly, as Jon Meloi of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles just signed him to a minor league deal.
As Meloi notes, it’s certainly just an organizational depth move, as Patrick is no prospect. And it’s actually likely something of a coincidence that it’s the Orioles who signed him, as Palmeiro doesn’t have any real contacts with the Orioles baseball operations people, all of whom are different folks now than back in his day.
This may not be the last of the Palmeiros, by the way. Peter Gammons tweeted this morning that Patrick’s younger brother, Preston, is a first baseman at North Carolina State who could be drafted this june. Gammons says he has a swing “remarkably similar to dad.”
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.
Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.
The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.
Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.
The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.
Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.
Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.