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Man who made fake website for Melky Cabrera sues agency for which he consulted

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In 2012, outfielder Melky Cabrera was suspended for PED use. His suspension was far more notable than most, however, in that it was discovered that a fictitious website for a nonexistent product was created, designed to prove he inadvertently took the banned substance that caused his positive test.

The ruse was quickly discovered and Cabrera served his suspension. In the investigation which followed, a man named Juan Carlos Nunez, who had consulted for Cabrera’s agents, the ACES agency, helping them sign players out of the Dominican Republic, admitted that he created the website. He took full responsibility for it at the time and was banned from baseball. He was later arrested for helping recruit ballplayers for the disgraced Biogenesis lab and served three months in prison as a result of his role in the PED ring.

In the wake of the Cabrera/Nunez/Biogenesis scandal, the Major League Baseball Players’ Association, which has jurisdiction over agencies, investigated the ACES Agency, run by brothers Seth and Sam Levinson, and found no wrongdoing on its part. Now, six years after Nunez’s fall from grace, he has sued the agency and the Levinson brothers, reports Jon Heyman. A copy of the complaint can be found at the bottom of this article.

Nunez says in the suit that the ACES agency encouraged him to make under-the-table payments to players and their families to attract clients as well as help clients get steroids. He claims that the fake Cabrera website was created at the agency’s direction and that he agreed to take responsibility for it in exchange for cash payments. He alludes to an affidavit by convicted PEDs dealer Kirk Radomski, which he says support his claims, though the affidavit is not attached to the complaint and is, in fact, several years old. He claims that ACES has violated its agreement in this regard and otherwise breached its contract with him.

Sam and Seth Levinson have released the following statement in response to the suit:

While we have not yet seen the complaint, Juan Nunez is a convicted felon who spent time in federal prison. He betrayed his family, the players who trusted him and the very people who gave him an opportunity at a great life and career. He was terminated almost six (6) years ago, in August of 2012, after his betrayals came to light. ACES has been thoroughly investigated, and at every turn, has fully cooperated. The MLBPA exonerated us, all of the players cleared us, and it was conclusively proven that we did absolutely nothing wrong. This is nothing more than a shakedown by a man broken by his own criminal actions. We will take the fight to Mr. Nunez for any meritless and defamatory claims, and we will seek all available remedies and damages that his criminal behavior has caused.

Nunez certainly seems like he’ll have a tough road ahead of him. In addition to his previous statements taking full responsibility for the Cabrera affair and for his connections to Biogenesis, he purports to rely on another convicted felon, Radomski, to support his claims. Notably, Radomski’s statements in the form of the cited affidavit were already in possession of Major League Baseball and the MLBPA at the time ACES was under scrutiny, and yet the agency was still absolved of wrongdoing in all of it.

The wheels of justice will begin to turn now, and the case will commence, but based on what we know at this point, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that Nunez is looking to make a buck here now that he’s unable to work in baseball.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to minor-league deal

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The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.

Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.

Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.