Add Mike Trout to the growing Get Tough crowd among major league ballplayers. He was on the Boomer and Carton show today and said:
“I think MLB is definitely moving in the right direction with getting these guys. For me personally, I think you should be out of the game if you get caught. It takes away from the guys that are working hard every day and doing it all-natural. Some people are just trying to find that extra edge.”
He’s not the first player to say such a thing. He may be the best to have said it. And it’s just further evidence that we’re going to see players be receptive to any league overtures about toughening up the PED penalties, possibly as soon as this winter.
As for how that ultimately goes? As we’ve noted several times around these parts, it’s one thing to say “let’s get tough.” It’s another thing altogether to put a plan in place that is fair and won’t lead to guys losing their careers or contracts over false positives, inadvertent ingestion of banned substances and the like. And if you do build safeguards against such things into the system, you may be altering the overall framework significantly, from one of zero tolerance and automatic suspensions to one in which every positive test leads to, in effect, a fully-litigated court case.
Which, sure, if that’s the system they want, that’s the system they can create. But I do think their answers about that would be very different if asked in a meeting in which actual plans were on the table vs. being asked in a talk radio context where the overall assumption is that everyone agrees at the outset and no one poses the tough questions and hypotheticals to the players.
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.
The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.
While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.