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.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.