The clock is ticking on players on contending teams who might be facing a 50-game suspension related to Major League Baseball’s Biogenesis investigation. Players have about two weeks to resolve their cases without risking the possibility of being banned from postseason games. Drug suspensions cover consecutive games, regardless of whether they occur in the postseason.
For instance, if Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, who has been named in reports in connection to the Biogenesis clinic, faces a 50-game suspension, he would have to settle that case by Aug. 4, when the Rangers play game number 112, to be eligible for the start of the postseason.
If Cruz appeals any discipline, he would remain eligible to continue playing while that appeal process occurs. Players association executive director Michael Weiner has indicated that appeals might not be resolved during the 2013 season. In that case, Cruz, a free agent after the season, could have his free agent value diminished by the possibility of discipline that takes him off the field in 2014.
Like Cruz, Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta and Oakland pitcher Bartolo Colon are free agents after the season whose postseason availability or free agent status could be affected by any discipline. A 50-game suspension for a Detroit player would carry into the postseason if it is decided after Aug. 7. A 50-game suspension for an Oakland player would carry into the postseason if it is decided after Aug. 6.
Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun was motivated to settle his case quickly because of the baseball calendar. Major League Baseball insisted on a suspension of more than 50 games to validate its finding that Braun violated the Joint Drug Program multiple times. Braun, already mired in a lost, non-competitive season for the Brewers, did not want his suspension to effect the 2014 season, so he was under pressure to settle before Milwaukee had only 50 games remaining in the season.
There was no immediate indication Tuesday that Braun’s settlement caused other players to reach out to the commissioner’s office about a possible settlement. Like Braun, New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez already has met with MLB officials about the Biogenesis case. Those officials did not spell out every detail of their findings, but did ask Rodriguez enough very specific questions regarding the case to indicate to him the thoroughness of their findings. A source familiar with those presentations indicated the level of information and sourcing regarding Rodriguez exceeded the trove on Braun, including texts, bank receipts and other detailed corroborating evidence.
Based on commissioner Bud Selig’s use of the 50-game/100-game/lifetime ban scale of discipline as a guideline, Rodriguez could be presented in negotiations with a ban of 150 games or even a lifetime ban. He would have to decide whether to use Braun’s tactic and negotiate downward with favorable terms -- such as an agreement with MLB to acknowledge only “violations” of the program without mention of specifics -- or take his fight to an arbitration panel. Rodriguez was said to be still weighing his options with no decision immediately imminent.
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