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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.'”

Frankie Montas out 2-4 months after rib resection surgery

Chicago White Sox pitcher Frankie Montas throws against the Detroit Tigers in the first inning of a baseball game in Detroit, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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Per Eric Stephen of SB Nation’s True Blue LA, the Dodgers announced that pitching prospect Frankie Montas will be out two to four months after undergoing rib resection surgery to remove his right first rib.

The Dodgers acquired Montas from the White Sox in a three-team trade in December 2015 that also involved the Reds. The 22-year-old made his big league debut with the Pale Hose last season, allowing eight runs on 14 hits and nine walks with 20 strikeouts in 15 innings across two starts. Montas had spent the majority of his season at Double-A Birmingham, where he posted a 2.97 ERA with 108 strikeouts and 48 walks in 112 innings.

MLB.com rated Montas as the 95th-best prospect in baseball, slipping a few spots from last year’s pre-season ranking of 91.

Athletics acquire Khris Davis in trade with Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers' Khris Davis swings on a home run during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres on Tuesday, July 23, 2013, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
AP Photo/Morry Gash
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The Brewers’ rebuild continues, as the club announced on Twitter the trade of outfielder Khris Davis to the Athletics in exchange for catcher Jacob Nottingham and pitcher Bubba Derby. MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports that the A’s have designated pitcher Sean Nolin for assignment to create room on the 40-man roster for Davis.

Davis, 28, was the Brewers’ most valuable remaining trade chip. He blasted 27 home runs while hitting .247/.323/.505 in 440 plate appearances this past season in Milwaukee. Adding to his value, Davis won’t become eligible for arbitration until after the 2016 season and can’t become a free agent until after the 2019 season. In Oakland, Davis will give the Athletics more reliability as Coco Crisp was injured for most of last season and is now 36 years old. Though he doesn’t have much of a career platoon split, Davis split time in left field with the left-handed-hitting Gerardo Parra last season. It’s unclear if the A’s will utilize him in a platoon as well.

With Davis out of the picture, Domingo Santana is a leading candidate to start in left field for the Brewers, GM David Stearns said, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Nottingham, 20, started the 2015 season in the Astros’ system but went to the Athletics in the Scott Kazmir deal. He hit an aggregate .316/.372/.505 at Single-A, showing plenty of promise early in his professional career. With catcher Jonathan Lucroy on his way out of Milwaukee, the Brewers are hoping Nottingham can be their next permanent backstop.

Derby, 21, made his professional debut last season after the Athletics drafted him in the sixth round. Across 37 1/3 innings, he yielded seven runs (five earned) on 24 hits and 10 walks with 47 strikeouts. He’s obviously a few years away from the majors, but the Brewers are looking for high upside.

Yankees, Aroldis Chapman avoid arbitration at $11.325 million

Aroldis Chapman
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Yankees and closer Aroldis Chapman have avoided arbitration, settling on an $11.325 million salary for the 2016 season. It is the lefty’s third and final year of arbitration eligibility.

Chapman had filed for $13 million while the Yankees countered at $9 million, so he gets slightly more than the midpoint between the two submitted figures.

With the Reds this past season, Chapman posted a 1.63 ERA with 33 saves and a 116/33 K/BB ratio over 66 1/3 innings. The Reds have opted to rebuild, so they traded him to the Yankees this offseason in exchange for four minor leaguers. Chapman, who turns 28 at the end of February, will make for a fearsome 1-2-3 punch in the back of the Yankees’ bullpen along with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances.

Indians sign reliever Tommy Hunter to $2 million deal

Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Tommy Hunter throws to the Miami Marlins during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Miami, Friday, May 22, 2015. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
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Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that right-hander Tommy Hunter has agreed to a one-year, $2 million contract with the Indians. It’s a major-league deal, so Hunter gets a spot on the 40-man roster and will be in the Opening Day bullpen if he’s fully recovered from core muscle surgery.

Hunter split last season between the Orioles and Cubs, totaling 60 innings with a 4.18 ERA and 47/14 K/BB ratio. He had a sub-3.00 ERA in both 2013 and 2014, and has generally been a setup-caliber reliever since shifting to the bullpen full time.

He has good control and a mid-90s fastball, but Hunter has never missed many bats despite the big-time velocity and often struggles to keep the ball in the ballpark. He’ll likely fill a middle relief role in Cleveland initially.