Sam Seth Levinson

MLB is concerned about ACES’ links to Biogenesis, but it can’t do anything about it

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Over the past several days there have been multiple articles in which the ACES agency, run by the Levinson Brothers, has been scrutinized due to the fact that the vast majority of players suspended in the Biogenesis scandal are or were represented by the agency. ACES was censured by the MLBPA last year in the wake of Melky Cabrera’s suspension for its failure to properly supervise its former consultant, Juan Carlos Nunez, who is alleged to have steered players to Biogenesis and who was behind the efforts of Cabrera to deflect blame for his positive test via the formation of a phony website.

On Monday we reported that no additional adverse action would be taken against ACES. Yesterday we noted how multiple agents are dissatisfied with this and have spoken out against the agency.  Today Bob Nightengale reports that Major League Baseball remains interested in the matter:

Major League Baseball, armed with evidence that every player suspended 50 games Monday in its intensive drug probe were linked by the same agency, plans to turn its attention to baseball agents, particularly Juan Carlos Nunez and the ACES agency.

It may be “turning its attention” to ACES, but there is nothing MLB can do about it.  Agents are sanctioned by the MLBPA, not Major League Baseball. The MLBPA has sole jurisdiction over agents and it has already said that there is no evidence that ACES was aware of or condoned Nunez’s behavior. There is no basis for discipline there and MLBPA will not be taking any. To say MLB is concerned about it is akin to saying MLB is concerned about the weather. It can talk about it all it wants, but it can’t do a thing about it.

Going forward, this story should be seen for what it is: agents trying to gain an advantage over ACES via attempts to leverage bad press. Which, as we noted yesterday, is par for the course for agents. All agents, always.  It’s like a sewing circle.

Padres sign Trevor Cahill

Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Trevor Cahill (53) during the seventh inning of Game 3 in baseball's National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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The Padres have signed Trevor Cahill to a one-year, $1.75 million contract.

As recently as the middle of the 2015 season it looked like Cahill’s career would meet a premature end, but after being released by the Braves and signing with the Cubs in August of that season he has been a remarkably effective reliever. He has posted a 2.61 ERA in 61 games in Chicago and has posted a strikeout rate far above his career norms.

He’s not someone you necessarily want taking the hill when the leverage is high, but in San Diego the leverage won’t be all that high all that often.

Justin Verlander: “I’m too old to be part of a rebuilding process”

DETROIT, MI - JULY 20: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches in the eighth inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins on July 20, 2016 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
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The Tigers have sent some mixed signals this winter. The offseason began with widespread reports that GM Al Avila was going to break up the team. Indeed, it was reported that he was willing to field offers for any and all players, on up to Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera.

As the offseason has unfolded, however, a rebuild has not materialized.

Avila traded away outfielder Cameron Maybin. He signed old friends Omar Infante and Alex Avila. He made the usual sorts of minor league signings every team makes to fill out the roster. Detroit still needs a center fielder and there continue to be rumors that outfielder J.D. Martinez and second baseman Ian Kinsler could be had for the right price, but it’s been pretty quiet at 2100 Woodward Avenue.

If that changes, however, and the Tigers do start to rebuild, there’s one key member of the team who doesn’t really want a part of it. From the Detroit Free Press:

Justin Verlander is 33 years and 330 days old.

He’s not that old.

But the Detroit Tigers ace right-hander – a 12-year major league veteran – is old enough in baseball years to know that he doesn’t really want to be part of a rebuilding process.

“Would it have been upsetting for me if we started trading away everybody?” he told MLB Network Radio on Friday morning. “I’m too old to be part of a rebuilding process.”

Verlander will make $28 million a year for each of the next three seasons and has a vesting option for 2020 if he finishes in the top 5 of the 2019 Cy Young vote. He had an excellent return-to-form in 2016, but his contract is still pretty big for a pitcher with his mileage, making it seem unlikely that he would be moved absent the team eating a huge portion of his salary. The same could be said for Miguel Cabrera who, despite still being one of the best hitters in baseball, is making between $28-32 million between now and 2023. A wonderful player, but an extraordinarily difficult contract to move. Both superstars have full no-trade protection as 10-5 men as well.

At the moment the rebuild does not seem to be materializing and the Tigers — as I think they should, probably — will enter 2017 aiming for the AL Central crown, not aiming at restocking their farm system.

But what will Verlander think, however, if the Tigers find themselves out of contention come May? What will he think if Ian Kinsler — a valuable player on a tradable contract — is sold off? Or Justin Upton? Or J.D. Martinez?

It’s worth watching.