The new PED evidence is sexy, but they can’t void A-Rod’s contract, and probably can’t even suspend him. Yet.

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UPDATE:  I missed this on my first reading of the JDA, but Section G provides for suspensions by the Commissioner for “just cause.”

A Player may be subjected to disciplinary action for just cause by the
Commissioner for any Player violation of Section 2 above not referenced in Section 7.A
through 7.F above.

The question, then, is what constitutes “just cause.” While I think this would give MLB some justification to attempt to move, I stand by what I said below: there would be significant pushback on whether this news report is “just cause,” and A-Rod or others would fight any action based on it alone.  This will require greater evidence and information, and likely someone — be it the players or the doctors who prescribed or someone else — to put more meat on the bones of this report.

9:35 AMThe Miami New Times story implicating A-Rod, Nelson Cruz and others with a PED clinic in Miami is big news. It sheds a lot of light on PED use by major players and the overall availability of PEDs in baseball.  The pipelines like BALCO and now Biogenesis are a pretty big deal, and they’re certainly something MLB has an interest in investigating and news organizations should have an interest in reporting.

But let’s be clear about one thing: this news should not and likely will not have any direct, immediate bearing on A-Rod or any of the other players named as far as immediate discipline.

The Joint Drug Agreement (“JDA”) provides one means and one means only for suspensions: positive drug tests.  Now, those drug tests can be scheduled or random. Or they can be instituted based on “reasonable cause.” From page 12 of the JDA:

In the event that either Party has information that gives it reasonable cause
to believe that a Player has, in the previous 12-month period, engaged in the use,
possession, sale or distribution of a Performance Enhancing Substance (including
hGH) or Stimulant, the Party shall provide the other Party, either orally or in
writing, with a description of its information (“Reasonable Cause Notification”),
and the Player will be subject to an immediate urine and/or blood specimen
collection, or a program of testing, as determined by the IPA, to commence no
later than 48 hours after the Reasonable Cause Notification was provided.

Nowhere in the JDA does it provide for suspensions or any other kind of discipline based purely on non-testing evidence like reports, tips or the like.  What’s more, there is an appeal process involved where the player subject to reasonable cause testing can dispute whether there was, in fact, reasonable cause.

As this relates to A-Rod, Nelson Cruz and the others named in the report: MLB could very well demand a drug test from them within 48 hours of learning this information (and remember we don’t know whether MLB is learning this today or knew already).  That’s it.  If I’m representing those players, though, I argue strongly that a newspaper report like this is not “reasonable cause” and make an arbitrator figure that out.  That’s how it would play out.

What will not happen is MLB summarily suspending any of these players, the Yankees voiding A-Rod’s contract or anything else.  Such steps would be outside the scope of the league or the team’s power and it would result in major litigation.

Against that backdrop, if anyone — like, say, a columnist or reporter who wants to pile on A-Rod — starts beating the “void the contract” or “suspend him for life” drum in the next couple of days, they’re full of it or they’re being emotional or they’re grandstanding and no matter which of those it is, they should not be taken seriously.

The Adam Eaton/Todd Frazier feud continues

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Nationals outfielder Adam Eaton and Mets third baseman Todd Frazier had to be separated in between innings yesterday in New York, MASN’s Dan Kolko reported. Nothing happened other than an exchange of words, but it continued a years-long beef between the two players.

Julia Karron of NBC Sports Washington chronicled the Eaton-Frazier history. Things began in 2016 when Eaton tried to step up as the leader of a rebuilding White Sox team, but Frazier — whose locker was next to Eaton’s — wasn’t buying it. The two came to blows in the clubhouse and had to be separated.

In 2018, Eaton slid hard into second baseman Phillip Evans, injuring Evans in the process. The Mets were upset that their player was injured and felt Eaton had violated the “Chase Utley rule.” Later that month, the Mets exacted revenge as Zack Wheeler threw at Eaton. He missed and Eaton ended up walking. As Eaton made his way to first base, Frazier yelled some choice words across the diamond. After the game, Eaton said of Frazier, “When he usually talks or chips, usually he says it just loud enough that you can hear him but you can’t understand him. So I’ll just leave it at that.” Eaton was hit in the hip by a Wheeler pitch later in the game. MLB found Eaton’s slide to be legal.

After Monday’s game, Eaton said of Frazier (via NBC Sports Washington), “He must really like me cause he wants to get my attention seems like every time we come here.”

Meanwhile, Frazier said to the media (via Yahoo’s Matt Ehalt), “You ask guys when I played for the White Sox in 2016, ask all 23 of those guys, they know what happened, for (Eaton) to even talk after that, I don’t know how you talk after that.” Frazier continued, “Men usually settle it on the field, they don’t need to talk about it. He started it, coming at me with that kind of, I’m a man, I got a mortgage to pay, two kids. Pay off your mortgage, I don’t know what to tell you.” He added, “Immaturity. If you know Adam, like every team he’s been on, you hear what people say, you understand it. I was part of it for a year and a half.”

Can we just get these guys a reality TV show already?