Or at least an alleged one.
By way of disclaimer: I don’t offer this in my usual spirit of pumping up baseball at the expense of the NFL. This is way too serious a matter for that. And I hope like hell that the allegations here aren’t true. But if they are — if even part of them are — this would be a major, major story. One that could be far more serious for the NFL than the concussion thing:
A new class action has been filed against the NFL alleging that the league illegally used prescription pain-killers to mask injuries and to allow players to keep playing. The named plaintiffs include Bears Hall of Fame defensive end Richard Dent and former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon.
The allegations include claims that teams would conceal the diagnosis of injuries from players, pump them up with drugs and send them back on the field. Injuries like actual broken bones. McMahon claims that his teams doing them led him into a severe prescription drug addiction. Mike Florio has context about the legal hurdles the players have before them and talks about the complexities of it all here. Given Mike’s legal background, if this story is of interest to you, be sure to follow at PFT.
In any event, if these allegations are borne out, it makes Biogenesis, BALCO and any other drug scandal we’ve seen in sports look like child’s play. I mean, it’s one thing when some rogue athletes willingly take some things they shouldn’t in an effort to get healthy again following an injury. It’s another thing altogether for the league itself to be involved in a pattern of behavior in which players are given drugs for the specific purpose of getting injured bodies back on the field before they have a chance to get healthy. Against their will and without their knowledge if the allegations here are true.
Here’s hoping that, unlike with any of the other drug scandals in sports, this one is treated with the amount of gravity it is actually owed.
Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.
Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.
The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.
Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.
As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.
Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.
If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.
Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.
But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.
Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …
Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.
There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.
Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.
Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.
We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.
Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.
The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.
Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.