Baseball established its Department of Investigations back in 2008 following a recommendation in the Mitchell Report that it actually, you know, investigate PED use and other violations of MLB’s rules. While it was seen as somewhat toothless for a while, last year’s investigation and suspension of Alex Rodriguez and the other Biogenesis players showed that, when it wants to, MLB can go after its own with the best of ’em.
Maybe too zealously, actually. The bad behavior by the DOI has been well-reported. And, really, it was ultimately a legal and tactical strategy — not an investigative one — that helped MLB turn the corner in its investigation. Specifically, getting Anthony Bosch to flip when the league sued him and then paying his astronomical legal fees is what won the day.
All of which led to a house-cleaning at DOI. Back in May it fired several of the DOI people involved in the investigation and gave the Department a general shakeup. Now it has named a new leader of its investigative team:
Major League Baseball has hired Bryan Seeley to lead its Department of Investigations, Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig announced today. Seeley will be MLB’s Vice President, Investigations & Deputy General Counsel.
Since 2006, Seeley has served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C. Beginning in 2010, he prosecuted federal white-collar cases as a Senior Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Fraud and Public Corruption Section. In that capacity, Seeley led fraud investigations involving government procurement fraud, bank fraud, health care fraud, securities fraud and embezzlement, along with public corruption investigations involving bribery and kickbacks. From 2006-2010, Seeley prosecuted cases in D.C. Superior Court and U.S. District Court involving violent crime, illegal narcotics and property-related crime, a role in which he interviewed hundreds of witnesses and tried more than 30 cases.
A guy with that kind of background — and presumably the sorts of strong ethics possessed by most AUSAs — is a welcome addition.
The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.
The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.
For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.
The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.
St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.
The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.
Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?
Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.