Do Rule 5 draft picks have an incentive to use PEDs?

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Rule 5 pick Daniel Stumpf got suspended for PEDs this morning. He joins two other recent Rule 5 picks — David Rollins and Andrew McKirahan — in getting suspended for PEDs as well.

Coincidence? J.J. Cooper of Baseball America doesn’t think so. He thinks that the Rule 5 draft and its attendant rules actually incentivize players to cheat. And he’s right about that. As he argues, Rule 5 guys are fringy players at best, so taking PEDs (a) makes them more likely to make a good impression and stick in the bigs; and (b) even if they’re caught, the half season in the bigs pays them WAY more than they’d make in the minors. Moreover, the fact that the player is suspended makes it less likely the club will send them back to the team who left them unprotected in the draft, meaning that a PED suspension actually benefits the club as well. Cooper provides some concrete examples of this, particularly as it related to McKirahan and how it could affect Stumpf.

Interesting things to think about. The existence of certain incentives aren’t always predictable but once they become apparent they are almost always irresistible.