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 Atlanta Braves selected high school pitcher Carter Stewart with the number eight overall pick in the 2018 draft. Then, after the draft, they gave Stewart a below-slot signing bonus offer, claiming that they found problems with his wrist in his post-draft physical. Stewart ended up rejecting the offer and the MLBPA filed a grievance against the Braves on Stewart’s behalf.
The grievance sought to make Stewart a free agent it was considered a long shot at the time of its filing and, in fact, the grievance was rejected. Stewart, unable to attain free agency, enrolled at Eastern Florida State College, a two-year school that would’ve made him eligible for the 2019 draft.
Now, Ken Rosenthal reports, Stewart has pulled a crazy Ivan and is heading to Japan, having signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. The terms of the deal aren’t known, but Rosenthal says Stewart was looking for a $7 million guarantee.
It’s a fascinating turn of events for Stewart who, this time last year, was considered perhaps the best amateur pitcher in baseball. Being lowballed and having his health questioned by the Braves may have been a wakeup call to Stewart, however, about his chances of finding a quick path the bigs in the U.S. If the shine did come off of his prospect status in the past year here, there’s every reason to believe that $7 million and a path to the bigs in Japan is a much better deal than several million less and a path to the bigs in America.
He’ll be worth watching over the next few years, that’s for sure. Both for his own sake and to see if, in this era of Major League Baseball’s capping of amateur bonuses and teams’ habit of manipulating service time, going overseas becomes more attractive to American high schoolers and college players.