Mets maintaining interest in reliever Jose Valverde

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Ken Davidoff of the New York Post has the goods:

The door remains “slightly ajar” for free agent Jose Valverde to join the Mets as their closer, an industry source told The Post.

As with the Mets’ pursuit of Michael Bourn, you bet against this actually happening. But this is considerably less complicated than the Bourn endeavor.

Less complicated because signing Valverde does not mean forfeiting a draft pick, and because the 34-year-old right-hander should come pretty cheap (on a one-year contract) after failing to attract any legitimate offers on the open market this winter.

Valverde registered a decent 3.78 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 35 saves across 69 innings last season for the American League-champion Tigers. He could serve as the Mets’ ninth-inning man while Frank Francisco recovers from lingering elbow problems. Which would mean Bobby Parnell remaining in a setup role.

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UPDATE, 3:44 PM: According to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, the Mets expect Valverde to sign a contract elsewhere but will “maybe consider him later” if he doesn’t wind up getting an offer.

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.