Is Biogenesis casting a shadow over the trade deadline?

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It seems like all baseball news has been overshadowed by the looming Biogenesis suspensions and the circus that is Alex Rodriguez’s, Major League Baseball’s and the New York Yankees’ public feud. Indeed, as this week began it appeared as though today’s trade deadline would be a mere afterthought. Or, if not an afterthought, that it would be subservient to the Biogenesis drama, with teams looking to desperately cover for players they will lose to suspension.

Things have calmed down considerably in the past 24, hours, however.

For one thing, one of the teams that stood to be most adversely affected by Biogenesis suspensions — the Tigers, who will almost certainly lose Jhonny Peralta — filled their imminent shortstop hole with Jose Iglesias from the Red Sox. That, combined with the news that baseball is not likely to suspend Bartolo Colon due to him already having been punished for taking the substances he received from Biogenesis means that only one team currently in the playoff hunt stands to lose a significant player. That being the Texas Rangers and Nelson Cruz, according to multiple reports. Other players named in multiple reports include the Padres’ Everth Cabrera, whose team is not in contention, and Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, who is on the 60-day DL with a broken hand. Ryan Braun was suspended for the remainder of the season, but with his team far from contention, it’s unlikely the Brewers were going to do anything but sell anyways.

For another — and maybe I’m just imagining this — Major League Baseball appears to be settling on Friday as D-Day in the Biogenesis mess. Last night Jeff Passan of Yahoo! reported that the timeframe would be “within the next 72 hours” — a report that was later confirmed by multiple sources — as opposed to dropping their bomb at or around today’s 4 p.m. ET trade deadline. Maybe this is a matter of MLB still having work to do before issuing suspensions. Maybe it’s a matter of the league wanting to bury bad news on a Friday afternoon like politicians so often do. But maybe — just maybe — it’s a matter of MLB appreciating that the trade deadline chatter and commentary is pretty good for its brand and deciding to let that stuff have the limelight today.

The addition of a second wild card in each league also could be depressing trade activity, because teams are hesitant to sell while they still are in contention. Teams still need to sell tickets for the stretch run, and surrendering before August is no way to do that. Besides, there’s always the chance that a club goes on a late-season run.

MLB commended Braun for taking responsibility for his actions and said it wanted to resolve this issue, but otherwise has been publicly silent about the Biogenesis suspensions. Rodriguez’s attorney, David Cornwell, said in a radio interview this week that his client planned to fight the suspension.

“When the time comes and baseball does whatever it is going to do, then I will sit down with Alex and talk to him about the process of the appeal, filing the appeal and going in and presenting our best evidence that we have — and we think we have good evidence — to defend his interest, to protect him. That’s what I expect to be doing,” Cornwell told Stephen A. Smith, who was hosting the Michael Kay Show.

Rodriguez will always dominate the news, especially in New York. A-Rod would lead New York sports news for years even if he joined a religious sect that had him swear off sports, public appearances and money. He’s always the story in Gotham. But outside of that crazy media environment trades and playoff races seem to have been thrust to the fore last night and today.

Maybe Major League Baseball will fall back on old bad-P.R. habits and drop it’s bad news bombs after lunch today. But for now it seems pretty darn refreshing that we can focus on what’s truly good about baseball than what is, quite frankly, a major, major drag.

Nationals’ major leaguers to continue offering financial assistance to minor leaguers

Sean Doolittle
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
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On Sunday, we learned that while the Nationals would continue to pay their minor leaguers throughout the month of June, their weekly stipend would be lowered by 25 percent, from $400 to $300. In an incredible act of solidarity, Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle and his teammates put out a statement, saying they would be covering the missing $100 from the stipends.

After receiving some criticism, the Nationals reversed course, agreeing to pay their minor leaguers their full $400 weekly stipend.

Doolittle and co. have not withdrawn their generosity. On Wednesday, Doolittle released another statement, saying that he and his major league teammates would continue to offer financial assistance to Nationals minor leaguers through the non-profit organization More Than Baseball.

The full statement:

Washington Nationals players were excited to learn that our minor leaguers will continue receiving their full stipends. We are grateful that efforts have been made to restore their pay during these challenging times.

We remain committed to supporting them. Nationals players are partnering with More Than Baseball to contribute funds that will offer further assistance and financial support to any minor leaguers who were in the Nationals organization as of March 1.

We’ll continue to stand with them as we look forward to resuming our 2020 MLB season.

Kudos to Doolittle and the other Nationals continuing to offer a helping hand in a trying time. The players shouldn’t have to subsidize their employers’ labor expenses, but that is the world we live in today.