Throughout the Biogenesis investigation there were reports of MLB investigators skirting and often crossing the lines of propriety as they tried to get the goods on Alex Rodriguez. Paid-off witnesses, stolen documents purchased and, in one case, an investigator entering into a sexual relationship with a witness. It was all a little sketchy, even if MLB defended its conduct and, ultimately, the investigators’ work paid off in the form of a long suspension for A-Rod.
Now that the suspension is in and the dust settled, however, here comes a suggestion that, no, MLB was not happy with the way its investigative team performed. From the New York Times, which reports that the head of MLB’s Investigations unit, his top deputy and a top agent have all been dismissed. Here’s the statement from Rob Manfred:
“After the Biogenesis investigation, we made a decision that certain structural changes were necessary in order to have a more efficient and effective investigative unit,” Robert Manfred, the M.L.B. executive who oversaw the case, said Tuesday. “Once we made structural changes, it resulted in the elimination of some positions.”
As the article notes, MLB had to call in a whole second team of investigators after its own team started messing up and/or not getting the desired results. Ultimately it was a legal strategy — suing Tony Bosch in order to get him to flip on A-Rod — that proved the most effective in their case, not the stuff their boots on the ground in Florida provided.
It’s probably worth reminding ourselves that, but for a court’s decision allowing MLB’s case against Bosch to proceed — a decision that most legal commentators do not think represents what the majority of courts would’ve done in that situation — Major League Baseball wouldn’t have had a heck of a lot of evidence against Alex Rodriguez. There are a lot of potential takeaways of the restructuring of the investigative unit, but one most certainly is that, in the future, Major League Baseball would like to find a way to better obtain evidence itself rather than rely on legal Hail Marys to get it done.
The Marlins are intent on adding one of the three best relievers available on the free agent market, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Those three, of course, are Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon.
As Ashley noted earlier, Melancon is reportedly fielding multiple four-year offers in excess of $60 million. The price tags for Chapman and Jansen are likely to match or exceed that. The Marlins haven’t typically been eager to whip out the checkbook for free agents but with the bullpen being the name of the game in baseball these days, GM Michael Hill may feel the need to match his rivals.
The Nationals, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers are the teams most often linked to the “big-three” group of relievers, so it won’t be easy for the Marlins.
A.J. Ramos handled the closer’s role for the Marlins this past season and did an admirable job, saving 40 games with a 2.81 ERA and a 73/35 K/BB ratio in 64 innings. There’s no doubt, though, that Chapman, Jansen, or Melancon would represent a significant upgrade in the ninth inning.
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds manager Bryan Price is likely going to use a trio of pitchers in the closer’s role: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen. At RedsFest on Saturday, Price said:
I’d say right now that we have a series of guys that I’m comfortable with in the ninth inning and that would include (Raisel) Iglesias, (Tony) Cingrani and (Michael Lorenzen). Should we stay with this format – which I intend to do – all three of those guys and maybe more could have opportunities in save situations. At this point in time, there’s no defined closer. There are multiple options and I’d like to stick with the philosophy that we’re going to have our multi-inning guys, so we’re going to need multi-closers.
This seems to be part of the new bullpen zeitgeist in which managers are shying away from strictly-defined roles for their relievers. Indians manager Terry Francona’s postseason success using Andrew Miller likely had some degree of influence on Price’s willingness to go with a three-headed giant.
Iglesias started the 2016 season in the Reds’ rotation but missed two months with an injury, then moved to the bullpen in late June. Price put him in the closer’s role down the stretch in September. The right-hander overall finished the season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.
Cingrani battled control issues in his 63 innings of work this past season, finishing with a 4.14 ERA and a 49/37 K/BB ratio. He’s left-handed, though, and gives Price some matchup flexibility in the late innings.
Lorenzen impressed in his first full season as a reliever, ending the year with a 2.88 ERA and a 48/13 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. The right-hander uses a fastball that sits around 96 MPH on average along with a cutter and slider.