That report of the lowball offer to Pujols could be bogus

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Albert Pujols hit Cardinals training camp today and met the press.  By all reports he was calm, cool and collected.  He said that he’s not just about the money and that he wants to be a Cardinal for life. He said that he has no ill will with the Cardinals over negotiations and that it will be business as usual this season. He also commented on that report that was floating around yesterday that the Cardinals lowballed him:

Pujols said he hopes to remain a Cardinal forever. Also said he and his agent and the Cardinals laughed at reported contract numbers.

Emphasis added.

If it was just he and his agent laughing I suppose there could be some ambiguity there regarding whether it was laughable because it was a bad report or that the reported low offer was itself laughable.  But if the Cardinals were laughing too, it suggests that the notion that they truly tried to offer Pujols a relative pittance compared to his value is a false one and that the report was off the mark.  It may have been low — and there are multiple reports saying that it was below Alex Rodriguez-money — but that “not even in the top ten stuff” that was being discussed yesterday is looking less plausible.

And really:  if he was really saying that the Cardinals’ offer was laughable, it would have flown in the face of all the good vibes Pujols tried to send out this morning.

Report: MLB could fine the Angels $2 million for failure to report Tyler Skaggs’ drug use

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T.J. Quinn of ESPN is reporting that Major League Baseball could fine the Los Angeles Angels up to $2 million “if Major League Baseball determines that team employees were told of Tyler Skaggs’ opioid use prior to his July 1 death and didn’t inform the commissioner’s office.”

The fine would be pursuant to the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement which affirmatively requires any team employee who isn’t a player to inform the Commissioner’s Office of “any evidence or reason to believe that a Player … has used, possessed or distributed any substance prohibited” by MLB.

As was reported last weekend, Eric Kay, the Angels Director of Communications, told DEA agents that he and at least one other high-ranking Angels official knew of Skaggs’ opioid use. The Angels have denied any knowledge of Skaggs’ use, and the other then-Angels employee Kay named, current Hall of Fame President Tim Mead deny that he know as well, but Kay’s admission that he knew — he in fact claims he purchased drugs for and did drugs with Skaggs — would, if true, constitute team knowledge. Major League Baseball would, of course, want to make its own determination of whether or not Kay was being truthful when he told DEA agents what his lawyer says he told them.

Which raises the question of why, apart from a strong desire to get in criminal jeopardy for lying to DEA agents, Kay would admit through his lawyer that he lied to DEA agents. Still, the process is the process, so giving MLB a little time here is probably not harming anyone.

As for a $2 million fine? Well, it cuts a number of ways. On the one hand, that’s a lot of money. On the other hand, (a) a man is dead; and (b) $2 million is what the Angels’ DH or center fielder makes in about 11 minutes so how much would such a fine really sting?

On the third hand, my God, what else can be done here? No matter what happened in the case of Skaggs’ death, this is not a situation anyone in either the Commissioner’s Office nor the MLBPA truly contemplated when the JDA was drafted. We live in a world of horrors at times, and by their very nature, horrors involve that which it is not expected and for which there can be no adequate, pre-negotiated remedy. It’s a bad story all around, no matter what happens.

Still, it would be notable for Major League Baseball to fine any team under the “teams must report players they suspect used banned substances” rule. Because, based on what I have heard, knowledge of players who use banned substances — which includes marijuana, cocaine, opioids and other non-PED illegal drugs — and which have not been reported to MLB is both commonplace and considerable.

But that’s a topic for another day. Perhaps tomorrow.