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Doctor at the center of the Yankees-Jacoby Ellsbury beef speaks out

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Last week it was reported that the New York Yankees would attempt to withhold the $26 million they contractually owe Jacoby Ellsbury. The reported reason: the team claims that Ellsbury received unauthorized medical treatment from an Atlanta physician, thereby violating his contract.

Over the weekend Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic spoke to the doctor in question, Viktor Bouquette. Bouquette claims that he never treated Ellsbury for any sports-related injury and that, rather, his practice is a bit more wholistic, focusing on “inflammation in patients by identifying and treating its underlying causes.” Ellsbury was already injured when he began working with Bouquette, he says, and Bouquette’s treatments did not conflict with or impair Ellsbury’s injury rehabilitation.

Rosenthal reports that the Yankees were aware of Bouquette’s involvement back in May and sent him a letter seeking to confirm that Ellsbury was not being treated with any banned substances. Bouquette characterizes it as a condition for their granting permission for the treatment to continue, and says he has be believes the Yankees were both aware of and approved of the treatment. Bouquette says he responded promptly, so confirming. Rosenthal says that the heart of the dispute is whether or not the Yankees did, actually, approve said treatment which he reports commenced at some time in 2017.

In addition to that, there are two important passages in this story which seem to get to the heart of it all:

Some on the players’ side believe the Yankees’ motivation in seeking to recoup Ellsbury’s guaranteed money stems from their failure to insure his contract in 2020 . . .

and

Viktor Bouquette, the doctor at the center of the dispute between the team and player, says he never treated Ellsbury for a work-related injury – a statement that, if proven true, likely would mean Ellsbury did not violate his contract and baseball’s collective-bargaining agreement.

The Yankees’ big risk is that they said enough to Ellsbury and his doctor that they believed it was all OK and went forward. Ellsbury’s big risk is that the Yankees reserved their rights and never approved his treatment by Bouquette but that he went ahead anyway.

If I had to guess, neither side was willing to wager $26 million over some doctor’s visit and each of them thought that they had some sort of justification for their position, even if hindsight throws it all into a gray area. As such, my guess is that this ends with some sort of settlement.

Report: Mets sign Brad Brach to one-year, $850,000 contract

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The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Mets and free agent reliever Brad Brach have agreed on a one-year deal worth $850,000. The contract includes a player option for the 2021 season with a base salary of $1.25 million and additional performance incentives.

Brach, 33, signed as a free agent with the Cubs this past February. After posting an ugly 6.13 ERA over 39 2/3 innings, the Cubs released him in early August. The Mets picked him up shortly thereafter. Brach’s performance improved, limiting opposing hitters to six runs on 15 hits and three walks with 15 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings through the end of the season.

While Brach will add some much-needed depth to the Mets’ bullpen, his walk rate has been going in the wrong direction for the last three seasons. It went from eight percent in 2016 to 9.5, 9.7, and 12.8 percent from 2017-19. Needless to say the Mets are hoping that trend starts heading in the other direction next season.