Career Impact Meter for MLB Players Suspended in Biogenesis Scandal

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistAugust 5, 2013

Career Impact Meter for MLB Players Suspended in Biogenesis Scandal

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    It took a lot longer than anyone would have liked, but Major League Baseball finally dropped the hammer on 12 of the players connected to Anthony Bosch by handing them 50-game suspensions. 

    According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the players suspended include Nelson Cruz (Texas Rangers), Jhonny Peralta (Detroit Tigers), Everth Cabrera (San Diego Padres), Francisco Cervelli (New York Yankees), Antonio Bastardo (Philadelphia Phillies), Jordany Valdespin (New York Mets), Jesus Montero (Seattle Mariners), Cesar Puello (Mets), Sergio Escalona (Houston Astros), Fernando Martinez (Yankees), Fautino De Los Santos (free agent) and Jordan Norberto (free agent). 

    All 12 players, per Rosenthal, have accepted their 50-game suspensions and will begin serving them immediately. The two biggest names on the initial list are Cruz and Peralta, both because they play on teams with playoff aspirations and because of their impending free agency. 

    The big fish in this whole thing, Alex Rodriguez's suspension was also announced on Monday, and it is exactly what was reported over the weekend: 211 games through the 2014 season, effective on Thursday. 

    Rodriguez will appeal the suspension and be allowed to play until an arbitrator hears the case and renders a decision. 

    With the suspensions and penalties finally out there, we can break down what it means for the futures of all the players affected. Specifically, we want to list them in order from least impactful to most impactful. 

    We have put each suspended player in the order of least effected to most effected. A variety of factors—free-agent status, age, position, etc.contribute to their slot on this list. 

Cesar Puello, OF, New York Mets

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    Age: 22

    Contract Status: Still in minors and won't be eligible for arbitration until three years after debut

     

    Of the minor leaguers named, Cesar Puello might have the most to lose right now because of how well he was playing for Double-A Binghamton. The 22-year-old is hitting .328/.405/.550 with 16 home runs and 24 stolen bases in 90 games. 

    Puello's raw tools are more impressive than his performance, but that is changing this season. His approach is a little raw, with 82 strikeouts in 329 at-bats, but you still look at the numbers and see that adjustments have been made. 

    This season has clearly put Puello back on the Mets' radar, especially considering the state of their outfield in the big leagues. He may have had a shot to make the 25-man roster out of spring training next year. But now, with this suspension coming out and ending his season, he will likely be pushed down to Triple-A at the start of 2014. 

    If Puello continues to perform like he has in 2013 upon returning, though, the Mets are going to have no problem overlooking the PED suspension because they desperately need young players who can hit. Mets fans would undoubtedly agree given what they have watched this season.

    Suspension Impact: Low

Jhonny Peralta, SS, Detroit Tigers

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    Age: 31 

    Contract Status: Free agent after 2013 season

     

    Jhonny Peralta's absence from the Tigers should get a lot more play given how good he has been this season (.305/.361/.461, leads AL shortstops in WAR at 3.3).

    The team took steps to prepare for the situation by acquiring Jose Iglesias from Boston last week, but it also poses an interesting conundrum for Peralta after the season since he is a free agent. If the Tigers decide that they want to move in a different direction, Iglesias could take over for good. While not the offensive player Peralta is, Iglesias is a much better defender for a team that desperately needs it. 

    Considering how difficult it is to find shortstops who can play both ways, Peralta should drum up plenty of interest on the market this offseason. His next contract might be for less than originally anticipated because of the suspension, but you can also factor in that he has posted below-average OPS+ totals in five of the last seven years and will be entering his age-32 season. 

    All told, Peralta's stock probably won't take that much of a hit because of the position he plays. Plus, unless the Tigers collapse, he will be able to showcase those skills in the final series of the year and in the playoffs. That is, assuming the team brings him back when he's eligible. 

    Suspension Impact: Low

Francisco Cervelli, C, New York Yankees

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    Age: 27

    Contract Status: Signed to one-year, $515,350 contract; arbitration eligible through 2016

     

    Francisco Cervelli has become a forgotten man in New York because he hasn't played since the end of April due to an elbow issue that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has said could keep him out all year even if he wasn't suspended. 

    The suspension is a good news-bad news situation for Cervelli. On the one hand, the 27-year-old has to deal with having his name attached to PEDs and is guaranteed to be out for the season.

    On the other hand, since it didn't appear that he was going to play again in 2013 anyway, he can now focus all of his energy on getting better for next season. And the Yankees desperately need him after seeing Chris Stewart hit .227/.297/.290. 

    Cervelli has three years of arbitration eligibility and has actually been a solid offensive catcher in a backup role, with a career line of .271/.343/.367 in 201 games. The Yankees are going to bring him back because he is better than any other option they have.

    Suspension Impact: Low 

Everth Cabrera, SS, San Diego Padres

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    Age: 26

    Contract Status: Signed to one-year, $1.3 million contract; arbitration eligible through 2016

     

    Everth Cabrera is in an enviable spot—at least as enviable as a player suspended can be—for two reasons. First, given the fact that he is under team control for three years beyond 2013, the All-Star shortstop is likely to make up any money lost this season over the course of the next three seasons and into his next contract. 

    However, one thing that will be interesting to watch—if it gets that far—is just how an arbitrator is going to rule on a contract between Cabrera and the Padres. If the arbitrator goes by just the numbers, certainly he will get a nice raise given the season he is having (.278/.353/.371, 37 stolen bases). 

    But suppose the Padres try to use this suspension against Cabrera in an arbitration hearing to knock the price down. Would that even be allowed? Would the team want to do it and risk offending the player? It does raise a lot of questions we won't know the answer to for a long time. 

    The second reason that Cabrera is in a good spot is because the Padres need him. The 26-year-old has really come into his own this season, making more solid contact and striking out less often, and he knows he is a valuable commodity to this franchise. 

    Plus, when he hits free agency in 2016 at the age of 30, no one is going to remember this suspension if he keeps getting on base at a .353 clip. 

    Suspension Impact: Low

Antonio Bastardo, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies

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    Age: 27

    Contract Status: Signed to one-year, $1.4 million contract; arbitration eligible through 2015

     

    One of the last names to leak out, Antonio Bastardo is now in an interesting spot because he was in the midst of a strong season with a career-best 2.32 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 42.2 innings with the Phillies. 

    But this suspension could cost Bastardo more than a few dollars in arbitration next season (if it goes to court), because it prevents him from pitching all but one game the rest of the year. That means the numbers he has now will have to do when he presents his case to an arbitrator. 

    Certainly, there is nothing wrong with a left-handed reliever who strikes out more than one batter per inning and has the best ERA of a Phillies pitcher out of the bullpen. But if he were to rack up, say, 20 more innings with those kinds of numbers, it would do wonders for his salary. 

    However, even with some dollars sacrificed, it is hard to imagine Bastardo being hurt by this suspension all that much. Left-handed relievers are always in high demand, especially when they have a track record of success in the big leagues. 

    The Phillies aren't going to let a guy like Bastardo, who has a better ERA and strikeout rate than Jonathan Papelbon while making a fraction of the money, get away. He will serve his suspension and return in 2014 fresh and ready to play. 

    Suspension Impact: Low

Jordan Norberto, LHP, Free Agent

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    Age: 26

    Contract Status: Signed to one-year, $495,000 contract; arbitration eligible through 2018 (if he signs with new team)

     

    Jordan Norberto's suspension isn't going to hurt him at all. He has been an up-and-down pitcher throughout his career, spending parts of three seasons from 2010-12 in the big leagues with Arizona and Oakland. 

    Last year was Norberto's best as a professional, as he appeared in 39 games for the A's with a 2.77 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 52 innings. 

    He hasn't pitched since April 10 and underwent Tommy John surgery in June, putting him out until 2014 anyway. The A's released him in May after he appeared in just three Triple-A games.

    Given his age and injury history, it was always going to be a long shot that he would make it to back to the big leagues. This suspension just compounds the fact. 

    Suspension Impact: Moderate

Fernando Martinez, OF, New York Yankees (Triple-A)

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    Age: 24

    Contract Status: Signed to one-year, $493,000 contract; arbitration eligible through 2017

     

    Fernando Martinez has gone from the insane hype of being a top prospect in New York with the Mets to fighting just to stay with an organization in recent years.

    He flamed out in parts of three seasons with the Mets before going to Houston in 2012 and eventually landing back in New York with the Yankees as part of their Triple-A team. Martinez hasn't played since July 13 due to an injury. 

    What this suspension does is put him a little further down the depth chart. He wasn't going to get a shot in New York unless two or three Yankee outfielders got injured because he has proven incapable of playing in the big leagues throughout his career, with a .206/.269/.362 slash line. 

    At just 24 years old, even with no proof that he is going to put things together, Martinez could find himself with a new home next season (if the Yankees want to be rid of him) because you still have to fill out rosters at all levels. But this suspension does nothing to help him get back to the big leagues or put him in a favorable light with teams that could look to sign him. 

    Suspension Impact: Moderate

Fautino De Los Santos, RHP, Free Agent

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    Age: 27

    Contract Status: Released by San Diego in May

     

    Another player whose suspension is likely not going to have much of an impact on his future because he doesn't have a team, Fautino De Los Santos hasn't pitched in an MLB game since April 23, 2012, with Oakland. 

    De Los Santos started this season with San Diego's Triple-A team in Tucson. Unfortunately, he was released by the Padres in May and has yet to surface anywhere else. The suspension just pushes his hopes for a return back a little bit, though he has been bothered by injuries all year that likely meant he wouldn't get a shot to pitch again until 2014 anyway. 

    Suspension Impact: Moderate

Sergio Escalona, LHP, Houston Astros (Double-A)

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    Age: 29

    Contract Status: Not eligible for arbitration until 2015, free agency until 2018

     

    Sergio Escalona had Tommy John surgery early in 2012 and has just gotten around to pitching in games again. The 29-year-old lefty has thrown 15 innings at Double-A Corpus Christi this season with 25 hits allowed and a 6.60 ERA. 

    Given his limited role as a lefty specialist, Escalona was always going to have a difficult road to go getting back to the big leagues. He did appear in 49 games for the Astros in 2011 and was going to be in the bullpen last year before the elbow injury, though the new direction the team has taken under Jeff Luhnow could alter a lot of future plans. 

    Escalona won't be back in time for the end of the minor league season, so the odds of him pitching again will depend on if the team sends him out to winter ball or the Arizona Fall League. Factoring in his old age and limited experience, this suspension figures to be a huge blow to his hopes of making it back. 

    Suspension Impact: Moderate

Jordany Valdespin, OF, New York Mets

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    Age: 25

    Contract Status: Signed to one-year, $496,645 contract; arbitration eligible from 2016-18

     

    Almost out of necessity, as well as the desire to see what the young infielder can do, Jordany Valdespin was given a 66-game audition with the Mets this season and blew it by hitting just .188/.250/.316. 

    Despite those struggles, Valdespin does have a few things working in his favor that could keep him in New York's good graces. First, as mentioned before with Cesar Puello, the Mets outfield situation is a disaster that will get worse if Marlon Byrd doesn't return next season. 

    Unless ownership is planning some surprise spending spree, the Mets will have to rely on the minors to churn out bodies they can use until they can figure out a good plan for the future. Valdespin could end up as a fourth outfielder on a good team, which they won't be in 2014. 

    However, they are certain to keep him around for at least one more year, likely starting in Triple-A, to see if they can strike lightning in a bottle and if this suspension serves as a wake-up call. But he isn't as young as a player like Puello, meaning the sense of urgency is much greater. 

    Suspension Impact: Moderate

Jesus Montero, C, Seattle Mariners (Triple-A)

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    Age: 23

    Contract Status: Signed to one-year, $533,000 contract; arbitration eligible through 2018 (could move to 2019, depending on if he plays in MLB again this season)

     

    Jesus Montero is in an interesting spot right now, both because of the suspension and the fact that his future with the Seattle Mariners was unclear. He is just 23 years old, and he came into the big leagues last season with incredible hype as one of the best pure hitters in the minors and a sure-fire middle-of-the-order bat. 

    To say that things haven't worked out thus far would be a gross understatement. The Mariners didn't help matters by keeping Montero at catcher, where it was clear he wouldn't stick. But hitting .258/.303/.396 in 182 games points to some problems with him. 

    Now, with Mike Zunino being Seattle's future at catcher, Justin Smoak (.375 OBP, .432 slugging) actually showing signs of life at first base and Kendrys Morales putting himself in position for an extension, Montero has work to do in order to make it back to the big leagues. 

    But with this suspension on him, he not only loses at-bats in Triple-A, he also puts himself behind the eight ball for the start of 2014. He was already buried in Seattle's depth chart, struggling at Tacoma, and he has to work his way back into the team's good graces after this incident. 

    The good thing for Montero is his age and being under team control for a long time. That gives him a long time to work his way back up after this epic fall from grace. 

    Suspension Impact: High

Nelson Cruz, OF, Texas Rangers

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    Age: 33

    Contract Status: Free agent after 2013 season

     

    Cruz is in the same spot that Jhonny Peralta is: impending free agent into his 30s playing for a contract and team with World Series aspirations. 

    The one big difference when it comes to their respective free-agent situations is that Peralta plays a premium position at a high level, while Cruz has seen diminishing returns on his overall performance in the last three years. 

    Cruz's WAR this season is 1.5, which puts him 38th among 59 qualified outfielders. It is his highest total since 2010. The one thing he provides that teams will covet is right-handed power, but even then teams have to be cautious because his career OPS is almost 200 points higher in Arlington than on the road (.915 to .734). 

    It also doesn't help matters that Cruz is now a well below-average defensive right fielder who should probably be a DH. He has cost the Rangers 19 runs in the outfield the last three years. 

    This suspension does hurt Cruz more than Peralta because it gives him less chance to inflate his numbers heading into free agency. It might also say something to other teams that he didn't try to fight the suspension in order to keep playing and help the Rangers' quest for the postseason. 

    Suspension Impact: High

Alex Rodriguez, 3B, New York Yankees

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    Age: 38

    Contract Status: Signed to 10-year, $275 million contract through 2017

     

    Alex Rodriguez, as anticipated, got the most severe punishment of anyone. His 211-game suspension will take affect Thursday, though he is going to appeal it, at which point an arbitrator will hear his case versus MLB and vice versa before a final decision is rendered. 

    That makes it very difficult to evaluate just how much of an impact this will have on Rodriguez's career, because we don't know how long the suspension will actually be right now. Nor do we know how long the arbitration case will take. 

    According to Jason Belzer of ForbesMLB's Joint Drug Agreement requires that Rodriguez's arbitration hearing must happen within 20 days of filing his appeal, and then the arbitrator has a maximum of 25 days to render a decision. That means it could be 45 days before this whole thing is officially behind us. 

    But if the verdict comes down with Rodriguez being suspended through the 2014 season, that is a death blow to what is left of his career. A-Rod will be 39 before he is eligible to play again, having not gone through a full season of workouts and games since 2012. 

    Considering the shape Rodriguez was in the last time we saw him on the field for the Yankees against Detroit in the ALCS, a layoff that long doesn't bode well for him playing and being effective again. 

    Since that is the only information we have right now, we have to base the impact of it on that decision. 

    Suspension Impact: High