An arrest is made in the impossibly unseemly theft of the Biogenesis documents

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Boca Raton, Florida police announced the arrest of  a tanning salon worker for the theft of the Biogenesis documents Major League Baseball is now using to go after Alex Rodriguez. His name is Reginald St. Fleur. He’s a known associate of Porter Fischer, the former Biogenesis employee who initially obtained the documents and who, at one time anyway, was cooperating with Major League Baseball. St. Fleur is also an associate of Gary Jones, the man who sold the records to MLB.

It all stinks to high heavens of course.

Deadspin’s rundown on it all notes that there are two possibilities, and neither make Major League Baseball look good. Baseball was offering to buy the documents from Fischer, and the two sides were in negotiations to that effect. Either (a) St. Fleur and Jones, who knew about it all, set up Fischer and stole the documents so that they could sell them to MLB; or else (b) Fischer was in cahoots with St. Fleur and Jones and staged the break-in so the documents could be sold to MLB without  Fischer having to be the seller.

Option (b) makes sense given that, in the interim, MLB had sued Fischer and others in an effort to merely subpoena, rather than buy the documents. Option (a) makes sense, however, given that — as Fischer has noted — already had an offer on the table from MLB and faced all kinds of risk in cooking up a theft story.

But what is undeniable here is that Major League Baseball bought documents that were either, by definition, stolen or, at the very least, got to MLB as the result of a criminal conspiracy of some kind. And as the Deadspin article notes, MLB was fully aware of this given that they made an inquiry to the police about the theft prior to purchasing the documents from Jones.

Does that make any of the evidence against Alex Rodriguez false? Of course not. But it makes the provenance of that evidence outrageously shady and supports Alex Rodriguez’s argument that MLB would literally stop at nothing — including inserting itself into some sort of crime — in order to nail him.

The Nationals sign Kevin Jepsen

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Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reports the Nationals have agreed to terms with free agent reliever Kevin Jepsen.

Think of this as the latest in what will likely be a series of no-risk bullpen additions. The Nats, basically, collecting as many almost free arms they can find in an effort to fix their bullpen woes without having to give up anything valuable at the trade deadline. Just like the K-Rod signing earlier this week or the Edwin Jackson signing two weeks ago.

Jepsen pitched for Tampa Bay and Minnesota last year, posting a 5.68 ERA with the Rays and a 6.16 ERA with the Twins, appearing in 58 games in all. He went unsigned this past offseason.

Eh, it might work. It probably won’t, but it might.

Rival Executives Expect Justin Verlander To Hit The Trading Block

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About a month ago, a report circulated that if the Detroit Tigers weren’t above .500 by the end of June, they were going to chuck the season, look to trade off veterans and rebuild. It’s now June 29 and the Tigers are 34-42 and sit six games out of first place.

As such, we should not be too terribly surprised to see a report from Jeff Passan of Yahoo that multiple baseball executives expect Tigers ace Justin Verlander to hit the trade market sometime in the next two weeks. Passan notes that the Tigers haven’t formally offered him and that he’s just passing along speculation from rivals, but it’s pretty astute speculation.

The question is what the Tigers can get for Verlander. On the one hand, yes, Verlander is Verlander and has been one of the top starters in baseball for a decade. While he had struggled for a bit, last year featured a return to Cy Young form. He still has a blazing fastball and there is no reason to think he could not anchor the staff of a playoff caliber team.

On the other hand, as Passan notes, his 2017 has been . . . not so good. He looks amazing at times and very hittable at other times. Overall his walk rate is way up and his strikeout rate is down. There doesn’t appear to be anything physically wrong with him — various ailments contributed to his 2014-15 swoon — so it’s possible he’s just had a rough couple of months. Like I said, Verlander is Verlander, and it may not be a bad gamble to expect him to run off a string of dominant starts like he has so many times in the past.

The problem, though, is that anyone acquiring Verlander is not just gambling on a handful of starts down the stretch. They’re gambling on the $56 million he’s owed between 2018 and 2019 and the $22 million extra he’ll be guaranteed for 2020 if he finishes in the top five in Cy Young voting in 2019. Those would be his age 35, 36 and 37 seasons. There are certainly worse gambles in baseball, but it’s a gamble all the same.

If the Tigers don’t find any gamblers out there on the market, they’re going to have to make a gamble of their own: let Verlander go and get relatively little in return if another club picks up that $56 million commitment or eat it themselves and get prospects back in return to help kickstart a rebuild. Personally I’d go with the latter option, but I don’t work for the Illitch family.