This all reads like the plot for a low-budget tech thriller movie. A bad, low-budget tech thriller.
According to Teri Thompson, Bill Madden, Christian Red, Michael O’Keefe and Nathaniel Vinton of the New York Daily News, outfielder Melky Cabrera “created a fictitious website and a nonexistent product designed to prove he inadvertently took the banned substance that caused a positive test under Major League Baseball’s drug program.”
The website, purchased by an associate of Cabrera’s from the Dominican Republic named Juan Nunez, cost a total of $10,000.
The product, advertised as a topical cream, was going to anchor Cabrera’s defense during his appeal.
But “baseball figured out the ruse pretty quickly,” a source familiar with the case told the Daily News.
Cabrera’s agents, Sam and Seth Levinson of ACES, have distanced themselves from Nunez and are claiming that the scheme was concocted without their knowledge. There’s no evidence that they’re lying, though Nunez has been hired directly by the agents in the past to obtain and deal with Dominican clients.
Federal investigators are now looking into the case, and it seems possible if not likely that Cabrera will be facing punishment beyond his 50-game ban from professional baseball. “If you engage in this type of activity,” concludes a well-informed source in the Daily News exclusive, “you do it at great risk to your livelihood.”
The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.
Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.
While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.