If you’re Alex Rodriguez you probably have to be smiling a bit about this report from Mike Fish of ESPN:
After months of negotiations and legal wrangling with the whistle-blower in the Biogenesis clinic scandal, Major League Baseball still hasn’t pried loose documents he took from the clinic. But within the past week, Porter Fischer, the clinic’s former marketing director, appeared before a federal grand jury in Miami and turned over the records, sources told “Outside the Lines.” … The grand jury appearance by Fischer and his turning over of documents is a clear sign that the scandal has gone beyond Major League Baseball’s intensive in-house probe and evolved into a federal law enforcement investigation that could potentially lead to criminal charges against individuals tied to the clinic and its distribution network, including Tony Bosch, the shuttered clinic’s founder who is cooperating in baseball’s investigation.
To sum up: Baseball doesn’t have the documents, but the government does. You know what’s really, really hard? Trying to get documents from the government that are part of a criminal investigation so that you can use them for your personal business purposes. Which is what baseball would have to do if it were to use Fischer’s documents in an arbitration against A-Rod.
So, why not just go to Tony Bosch, you ask? Well, according to this report he could very well face criminal indictment here. Know what else is really hard? Getting someone who is under a criminal indictment to go on the record in a civil arbitration admitting to all of the drug stuff he did. Which is something else baseball would have to do if it were to go hard after A-Rod in the arbitration.
None of which is to say that baseball’s case is dead. There are reportedly other witnesses, cell phone records and things already in their possession. But given how significant Bosch and Fisher are supposed to be, and given how there is a non-trivial risk that they could be put out of reach as evidence sources going forward, one has to wonder if anyone at MLB is nervous here.
MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.
Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.
The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.
Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.
While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.
Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.
After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.
It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.
Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.
LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.
Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.