Over the past several days there have been multiple articles in which the ACES agency, run by the Levinson Brothers, has been scrutinized due to the fact that the vast majority of players suspended in the Biogenesis scandal are or were represented by the agency. ACES was censured by the MLBPA last year in the wake of Melky Cabrera’s suspension for its failure to properly supervise its former consultant, Juan Carlos Nunez, who is alleged to have steered players to Biogenesis and who was behind the efforts of Cabrera to deflect blame for his positive test via the formation of a phony website.
On Monday we reported that no additional adverse action would be taken against ACES. Yesterday we noted how multiple agents are dissatisfied with this and have spoken out against the agency. Today Bob Nightengale reports that Major League Baseball remains interested in the matter:
Major League Baseball, armed with evidence that every player suspended 50 games Monday in its intensive drug probe were linked by the same agency, plans to turn its attention to baseball agents, particularly Juan Carlos Nunez and the ACES agency.
It may be “turning its attention” to ACES, but there is nothing MLB can do about it. Agents are sanctioned by the MLBPA, not Major League Baseball. The MLBPA has sole jurisdiction over agents and it has already said that there is no evidence that ACES was aware of or condoned Nunez’s behavior. There is no basis for discipline there and MLBPA will not be taking any. To say MLB is concerned about it is akin to saying MLB is concerned about the weather. It can talk about it all it wants, but it can’t do a thing about it.
Going forward, this story should be seen for what it is: agents trying to gain an advantage over ACES via attempts to leverage bad press. Which, as we noted yesterday, is par for the course for agents. All agents, always. It’s like a sewing circle.
We wrote a lot about Casey Kelly on this site circa 2010-12.
It was understandable. Kelly was a big-time draftee for the Red Sox and famously split time as a shortstop and a pitcher in the minors, with some people even wondering if he could do it full time. The Sox put the kibosh on that pretty quickly, as he became the top overall prospect in the Boston organization as a pitcher. He then made news when he was sent to San Diego — along with Anthony Rizzo — in the famous Adrian Gonzalez trade in December 2010.
He made his big league debut for the Padres in late August of 2012, holding a pretty darn good Atlanta Braves team scoreless for six innings, striking out four. He would pitch in five more games in the season’s final month to not very good results but missed all of 2013 and most of 2014 thanks to Tommy John surgery.
He wouldn’t make it back to the bigs until 2015 — pitching only three games after being converted to a reliever — before the Padres cut him loose, trading him to the Braves for Christian Bethancourt who, like a younger Kelly, the Padres thought could be a two-way player, catching and relieving. That didn’t work for him either, but I digress.
Kelly made a career-high ten appearances for a bad Braves team in 2016, was let go following the season and was out of the majors again in 2017 after the Cubs released him a couple of months after he failed to make the team out of spring training. He resurfaced with the Giants this past season for seven appearances. The Giants cut him loose last month.
Now Kelly’s journey takes him across the ocean. He announced on Instagram last night that he’s signed with the LG Twins in the Korean Baseball Organization. He seems pretty happy and eager about it in his little video there. I don’t blame him, as he’ll make $1 million for them, as opposed to staying here and almost certainly winding up in a Triple-A rotation making $60K or whatever it is veteran minor leaguers make.
This was probably way too many words to devote to a journeyman heading to play in Korea, but we so often forget top prospects once they fail to meet expectations. We also tend to forget all of the Tommy John casualties, focusing instead on the Tommy John successes. As such, I wanted to think a bit about Casey Kelly. I hope things work out well for him in the KBO and a baseball player who once seemed so promising can, after a delay, find success of his own.