As most of the baseball world now knows, thanks to a widely cited and circulated report from ESPN, Major League Baseball is reportedly ready to pursue suspensions for up to 20 Major League players due to their involvement with the Biogenesis Scandal.
One of those players; Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera.
According to the report, Anthony Bosch, the head of the anti-aging clinic Biogenesis at the center of the scandal for providing synthetic testosterone and other performance-enhancing drugs, is willing to talk to Major League Baseball about the players he supplied. In return, Major League Baseball will attempt to suspend 20 players, including Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez, Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, Yasmani Grandal, and others.
The report also states that MLB could attempt to invoke 100-game bans for Rodriguez, Braun, and the players involved, citing their involvement as a first offense and their denial as a secondary offense.
The question of course is if Cabrera, Colon, and Grandal could even be handed a suspension. All three were suspended 50 games last season (Grandal served his this year) for testing positive for synthetic testosterone. Those players would likely argue that the suspension served was tied into any involvement with Biogenesis, as Melky Cabrera indicated in a statement to USA Today’s Jorge L. Ortiz.
“I don’t know anything about it. This is the first I hear of it. If they suspend me again, I think that would be a harsh punishment because I already served my sentence. But it’s up to them. I believe I’ve already served my sentence, especially missing the playoffs. That’s what hurt me the most.”
In this writer’s personal opinion, Major League Baseball will have trouble making any of these suspension stick due to the character of the witness and the lack of test results. They will have a harder time proving that punishments to Cabrera, Colon, or Grandal wouldn’t constitute Double Jeopardy. The union will fight any such suspension with vigor, so there may not be any immediate impact on Toronto or any of the affected teams.
Regardless, the implications on the Blue Jays must still be considered.
For a team already beset with injuries, the loss of another everyday player could be the straw that broke this camel’s back. A trade would be unlikely at this stage, given the team’s performance to date and the salaries already committed to both this season and next.
However, the Blue Jays do have some fallback options in the Minor Leagues.
Anthony Gose is still with the Major League club, having served as a spare outfielder during Rajai Davis‘ absence. He somehow managed to avoid being optioned back to Buffalo on Tuesday when Davis was activated, but that move could come later this week when the team needs to add a starting pitcher. However, he could be back with the club as a replacement outfielder and platoon with Davis should a Cabrera suspension stick.
Gose is currently hitting .318 with a .809 OPS in 25 plate appearances since being recalled from Buffalo.
Another option would be Moises Sierra, who is currently playing in Buffalo. The 24-year-old has appeared in 50 games this season for the Bisons and holds a .282 average with a .792 OPS in 215 plate appearances. However, Sierra has played almost exclusively in right field this season and is suspect at best there, despite his solid arm. He would also be redundant as a right-handed bat with Davis already on the bench.
A long-shot to say the least would be outfielder Kevin Pillar, currently playing for Double-A New Hampshire. Also 24, the right-handed hitting Pillar has been on fire for the Fisher Cats, hitting .316 with a .823 OPS and 26 RBI through his first 58 games this season. While Pillar would be intriguing, and possibly worth a look, Gose still remains the better option for the club, especially in a platoon with Davis.
Of course, all of this is a long-shot, as all of this information is based on a report until MLB drops the hammer. The true fall-out will be determined by the decisions of men in an arbitration hearing, under the umbrella of appeal.
Until then, it’ll remain baseball as usual.