Does baseball have a cocaine problem?

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Andy Martino — who covered the Phillies and Mets for years before moving on to other beats — has a story about baseball up at the Huffington Post today. It’s a provocative one and an interesting one. It’s about the use of recreational drugs in Major League baseball.

It’s not a comprehensive study or anything like that. More of a question-asking affair. He speaks to a recently-retired big leaguer who talks about his own cocaine and marijuana use and that of some of his teammates. He also speaks to four major leaguers — two active, two recently retired — and has them estimate the percentage of players who use such drugs:

Three of the players offered educated guesses that ranged from 5 percent to 25 percent for cocaine, and 25 percent to 75 percent for marijuana. A fourth player, this one a current star for a contending team, offered a more modest estimate, saying that “one or two guys” on his ballclub used either cocaine or marijuana.

Again, anecdotal. And it’s worth noting that snorting coke is not exactly the sort of thing a guy would do in the clubhouse or talk about too openly. Baseball players are not the most reliable narrators and I’d take any guesses most of them have along these lines with a grain of salt.

Martino reminds us, though, that it’d be impossible for Major League Baseball to know about any of this itself, as its drug policy does not call for random drug tests for recreational drugs. It can only do so based on probable cause. As long as you stay out of trouble when it comes to this stuff, you can do lines during the day and hit line drives in the evening and never run afoul of Rob Manfred and his men.

Should anything change about this?

It depends on the drug, I suppose. Marijuana, which is mentioned in the article, has been shown time and time again to not be an addictive or particularly dangerous drug for most people (north of 90% of users do not become addicted). It’s deleterious effects are far less than that of alcohol, which is perfectly legal. It’s likewise legal or non-criminal in several jurisdictions now and has been shown to have medicinal benefits. Major League Baseball cracking down on players smoking pot in their downtime would be a dumb thing in my view. A waste of resources and a poor setting of priorities.

What about cocaine, though? As Martino notes, two players — Tommy Hanson and Jose Fernandez — have recently died while under the influence of cocaine. It was the direct cause in Hanson’s death and a contributing cause to the boat crash which killed Fernandez. It’s, in and of itself, a dangerous, addiction-forming drug. It’s also one with which baseball has a profoundly troubled history. I’ve written about this at length in the past.

Will Martino’s article hang out there for a couple of days and disappear, or will others start talking about it? If they do, will MLB pay any attention to it and, if so, how? MLB is nothing if not an organization which reacts to public opinion, so I’d be curious to see if it does here.

Bogaerts reportedly heading to the Padres for 11 years, $280 million

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SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Padres and Xander Bogaerts agreed to a blockbuster 11-year, $280 million contract, adding the All-Star slugger to an already deep lineup.

A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the contract to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it was pending a physical.

The Padres already had Fernando Tatis Jr. at shortstop, but he missed the entire season because of injuries and an 80-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

San Diego also met with Aaron Judge and Trea Turner before the big stars opted for different teams. The Padres reached the NL Championship Series this year before losing to the Phillies.

“From our standpoint, you want to explore and make sure we’re looking at every possible opportunity to get better,” general manager A.J. Preller said before the Bogaerts deal surfaced. “We’ve got a real desire to win and do it for a long time.”

The 30-year-old Bogaerts was one of the headliners in a stellar group of free-agent shortstops that also included Turner, Carlos Correa and Dansby Swanson.

Bogaerts, who’s from Aruba, terminated his $120 million, six-year contract with Boston after the season. The four-time All-Star forfeited salaries of $20 million for each of the next three years after hitting .307 with 15 homers and 73 RBIs in 150 games.

Bogaerts is a .292 hitter with 156 homers and 683 RBIs in 10 big league seasons – all with Boston. He helped the Red Sox win the World Series in 2013 and 2018.

Bogaerts becomes the latest veteran hitter to depart Boston after the Red Sox traded Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers in February 2020. Rafael Devers has one more year of arbitration eligibility before he can hit the market.

Bogaerts had his best big league season in 2019, batting .309 with a career-best 33 homers and 117 RBIs. He had 23 homers and 103 RBIs in 2018.

In 44 postseason games, Bogaerts is a .231 hitter with five homers and 16 RBIs.