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Report: MLBPA investigating possible role of agents in Biogenesis scandal

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Thought we were done talking about Biogenesis? Nope, not yet.

According to T.J. Quinn of ESPN.com, the Major League Baseball Players Association is currently conducting an investigation into the role some agents might have played in Biogenesis. If you have followed this story, the subjects of the investigation shouldn’t come as a surprise.

The MLB Players Association, which certifies player agents, retained veteran Washington attorney Robert Muse to run the investigation several months ago, the sources said, and he and his staff are expected to issue a report within the next few weeks.

According to sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the two primary subjects of the investigation have been the ACES agency out of Brooklyn, run by longtime agents Seth and Sam Levinson, and CAA in Los Angeles, where agent Nez Balelo represents Ryan Braun. Braun, who plays for the Milwaukee Brewers, accepted a 65-game suspension for PED use last year.

If the agents are found to have been complicit or to have violated their duties, they could face decertification, although the MLPBA’s agent regulations also allow for lesser penalties.

As Quinn notes, 10 out of the 25 major and minor league players with Biogenesis ties were clients of ACES. ACES was previously investigated after Melky Cabrera was suspended for testosterone in 2012 and tried to create a fake website to explain his positive test. The man behind that scheme was Juan Carlos Nunez, an employee at ACES. Seth and Sam Levinson were eventually cleared of any wrong-doing. However, this new investigation aims to see if the Levinsons had any knowledge of Nunez’s ties to Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch or his work in setting up the fake website for Cabrera.

If Muse’s name rings a bell, well, it should. He has worked as committee counsel on a number of high-profile investigations, including Watergate and Hurricane Katrina.

Seth Levinson issued the following statement exclusively to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish earlier this evening:

“Biogenesis has been thoroughly investigated and there is no evidence of any wrongdoing on our part. In August of last year, Michael Weiner, the Executive Director of the MLBPA put it best, when he said that “despite all of the new evidence none of it linked Sam or Seth (or their assistants) in any way to the use of PEDs.” We prefer not to revisit the past.

As a reminder, all of the players involved in Biogenesis were interviewed and to a man, said that we knew nothing and had nothing to do with the mistakes they made. Michael Weiner stated that “from our perspective, there is no evidence Sam and Seth have been involved in anything directly. No one said “Sam and Seth set me up. Sam and Seth knew what was going on.’ Michael Weiner added that all of the players who accepted their suspensions ‘were all tied to Nunez.'”

Reds sign Ryan Raburn to minor league deal

DENVER, COLORADO - APRIL 10:  Ryan Raburn #6 of the Colorado Rockies rounds the bases on his solo home run off of James Shields #33 of the San Diego Padres to take a 4-2 lead in the seventh inning on April 10, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the Padres 6-3.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Veteran infielder/outfielder Ryan Raburn has a minor league contract with the Reds, the club announced on Sunday. The deal was reported last week, but had been pending a physical. It includes an invitation to spring training, where Raburn is expected to compete against Desmond Jennings for a major league utility role. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer’s C. Trent Rosecrans, there’s a $900,000 base salary waiting for him if he makes the big league roster by Opening Day.

Raburn, 35, is coming off of a down year with the Rockies in 2016. He slashed .220/.309/.404 for the team last season, clubbing nine home runs as he struggled to stay above the Mendoza line. Raburn was stationed in left field for much of the season, but also saw some time at DH, first base and right field toward the end of the year. Assuming he can turn out a production rate that skews closer to the .301 average and .936 OPS he put up with the Indians in 2015, however, the Reds should have little trouble finding a place for him off the bench or as a platoon option with Scott Schebler in right field.

Dexter Fowler unhappy with President Trump’s attempts to institute a travel ban

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 01:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs looks on during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Six of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 1, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Mark Saxon reports that new Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler isn’t a fan of President Trump’s ongoing effort to institute a travel ban. Trump signed Executive Order 13769 on January 27, 2017, which limited incoming travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. However, a temporary restraining order was placed by Judge James L. Robart following Washington v. Trump.

Fowler’s wife was born in Iran. Fowler said that her sister delayed her return from a business trip to Qatar to avoid potentially being detained. Fowler and his wife have also delayed traveling to visit her relatives in Iran.

Fowler said, “It’s huge. Especially any time you’re not able to see family, it’s unfortunate.”

The response by Cardinals fans was predictably terrible. Via the BestFansStLouis Twitter account:

One of the commenters wrote, “He signed a contract with the Cardinals so that makes him property of stl cardinals and mlb so he needs to keep his mouth shut. His personal opinions, problems, beliefs and political views should be kept to himself as long as he’s under a mlb contract…” He continued, “It’s not our fault he married someone from another country.”

Fowler caught wind of this and other responses to his statement, so he tweeted:

Fowler, of course, is one thousand percent correct.

These same “stick to sports,” “keep your politics out of my sports” people either said nothing or cheered when athletes and coaches espoused political views from the other side of the spectrum. Like when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady hung a “Make America Great Again” hat in his locker. Or when reliever Jonathan Papelbon played a pro-Trump song in the clubhouse. Or when former NFL head coach and ESPN commentator Mike Ditka said last year, “Obama’s the worst president we’ve ever had.”

Even Saxon and Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch have received myriad “stick to sports” comments simply for acknowledging that Fowler made a comment on the matter.

As we’ve pointed out here countless times, it is impossible to separate sports from politics. It is irresponsible to pretend like it’s even possible. Sports and politics intersect in so many ways, including race, religion, gender, sexuality, and class. This particular situation with Trump’s executive order impacts baseball quite a bit as Fowler’s individual situation shows. He’s certainly not the only player to have a loved one who came from one of the seven aforementioned countries. Non-white players are also much more likely to have a bad experience at the airport — consider how often players are at the airport during the season — and their family and friends may be subject to one of the many ugly ICE raids that have taken place over the last three weeks.

Kudos to Fowler for speaking up and kudos for Saxon and others for reporting on it. This is certainly not a time during which we should pretend we can keep sports and politics separate.