MLB Players Hit Hardest by Biogenesis PED Suspensions
MLB has officially handed down its suspensions for the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug investigation on Monday.
A total of 12 players accepted 50-game suspensions on Monday: outfielder Nelson Cruz (Texas Rangers), shortstop Jhonny Peralta (Detroit Tigers), shortstop Everth Cabrera (San Diego Padres), pitcher Antonio Bastardo (Philadelphia Phillies), utility player Jordany Valdespin (New York Mets), pitcher Sergio Escalona (Houston Astros), catcher Jesus Montero (Seattle Mariners), catcher Francisco Cervelli (New York Yankees), outfielder Cesar Puello (New York Mets), pitcher Fautino De Los Santos (free agent), outfielder Fernando Martinez (free agent) and pitcher Jordan Norberto (free agent).
However, the big story is Alex Rodriguez, who was handed a 211-game suspension that will take effect on Thursday and run through the end of the 2014 season, according to MLB.com. He will appeal the suspension, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports while the other 12 players suspended will accept their 50-game bans.
Obviously, suspensions are never good for anyone involved, but there are a group of players who had a more on the line. Here is a look at the players who were hit hardest by these suspensions.
C Jesus Montero, Seattle Mariners
Suspension: 50 games
After posting an .815 OPS with 18 home runs in Triple-A as a 21-year-old in 2011, Jesus Montero entered the 2012 season as the No. 6 prospect in baseball, according to Baseball America.
Looking to bolster their starting rotation, the Yankees dealt him to the Mariners in a deal that landed them right-hander Michael Pineda. Montero joined an already impressive crop of young talent and entered the season as the front-runner for AL Rookie of the Year honors.
In 515 at-bats last year, he hit .260/.298/.386 with 15 home runs and 62 RBI, showing flashes of his immense upside but falling short of expectations overall. This season has been a big step backward, though, even before the suspension.
He hit .208/.264/.327 in 29 games before being sent to the minors on May 20. He has not exactly lit the world on fire in Triple-A, either, with a .247/.317/.425 line in 19 games.
He's only 23 years old and may still wind up being a key part of the Mariners' future, but missing the rest of the year will clearly hinder his long-term prospects in Seattle.
SS Everth Cabrera, San Diego Padres
Suspension: 50 games
Everth Cabrera broke into the big leagues as a 22-year-old back in 2009, hitting .255/.342/.361 with 25 steals in 377 at-bats and finishing tied for eighth in NL Rookie of the Year voting.
However, a nagging hamstring injury limited him to just 76 games the following season, and he spent all but two games in the minor leagues in 2011.
Cabrera rebounded last season to reclaim the Padres' starting shortstop job, finishing the season with a .246/.324/.324 line and swiping an NL-high 44 bases in 48 attempts. His performance earned him a raise to $1.275 million in his first year of arbitration eligibility.
The Nicaragua native took his game to another level this season, hitting .283/.355/.391 with 37 stolen bases and making his first All-Star appearance as the Padres' lone representative.
Not only was he in line for a substantial raise in his second arbitration go-around, but his career was just taking off. Now, much like Melky Cabrera last year, one can't help but wonder how much of his improved production was a result of PEDs.
RF Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers
Suspension: 50 games
A late bloomer who didn't become an everyday player at the big league level until 2009, Nelson Cruz has been one of the league's most consistent sluggers over the past five seasons.
Cruz was already 28 years old and playing for his fourth franchise when he earned a starting gig with the Rangers, but he has emerged as a valuable run producer in the middle of the team's lineup since then.
His 135 home runs since the start of the 2009 season rank 12th in all of baseball, and he was well on his way to surpassing his previous career high of 33 long balls this season. In 409 at-bats this year, the slugger has hit .269/.330/.511 with 27 home runs and 76 RBI, earning him the second All-Star appearance of his career.
Losing him is no doubt a blow to the Rangers' playoff hopes, but it also comes as a blow to Cruz personally, as he is set to hit free agency at the end of the season. In a market expected to be very thin on power, he likely would have been able to approach or even surpass the four-year, $56 million deal the Indians gave Nick Swisher last offseason.
SS Jhonny Peralta, Detroit Tigers
Suspension: 50 games
After Jhonny Peralta hit just .239/.305/.384 last season, the Tigers kicked around the idea of upgrading at the shortstop position in the offseason only to pick up the $6 million option on Peralta when no better options presented themselves.
The move has proven to be a great one for Detroit, as the 31-year-old has turned things around this year by hitting .305/.361/.461 with 11 home runs and 54 RBI.
The Tigers acquired Red Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias at the deadline as an insurance policy, and while he's fallen off at the plate since a hot start, his plus glove still makes him a valuable pickup on a loaded offensive team.
For Peralta, the suspension comes with the veteran set to hit free agency at the end of the season. Should the Tigers opt to let him walk, he would be by far the best option on the market at his position.
However, the suspension will undoubtedly cut into his market value.
LF Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
Suspension: 65 games
One of the most dynamic players in the game since he first broke into the league back in 2007 and won NL Rookie of the Year, superstar Ryan Braun saw his image and his bank account take a major hit with his 65-game suspension.
After winning NL MVP honors in 2011, Braun faced a 50-game suspension following a positive test for elevated testosterone, but he won his appeal because testers did not follow proper protocol in handling his urine sample.
With his name cleared, he quickly became a fan favorite once again and was voted onto the NL All-Star team as a starter in 2012. He finished last season with a .319/.391/.595 line and an NL-best 41 home runs to go along with 30 steals for his second straight 30/30 season.
The 2013 season had already been a down year for Braun, as the 29-year-old had missed significant time with a nerve issue in his hand. In 61 games for the last-place Milwaukee Brewers, Braun boasted a .298/.372/.498 line with just nine home runs and 38 RBI.
On top of the roughly $3.4 million Braun lost in salary with the suspension, Nike recently ended his endorsement deal with the company, according to Darren Rovell of ESPN.
The former MVP will have an uphill battle to win back the fanbase in Milwaukee.
3B Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
Suspension: 211 games
At this point, there is no saving the reputation of Alex Rodriguez. The only thing left is the question of how his tumultuous big league career wraps up.
The 38-year-old was handed the harshest suspension of the Biogenesis group, though he did not wind up banned for life as some had speculated he would be leading up to the announcement.
Rodriguez is still expected to make his season debut for the Yankees tonight, with the suspension slated to begin August 8. From there, he is also expected to appeal that suspension and could stay on the field during the appeal.
Though he has still never tested positive for PEDs, he has admitted to using them in the past and there was enough non-analytical evidence in this case to suspend him.
According to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, A-Rod was suspended for, “attempting to cover-up his violations of the Program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner’s investigation."
Rodriguez would lose roughly $9 million if his suspension began Thursday, and is set to make $25 million next season. Even if his appeal gets the suspension reduced, there is no doubt he will suffer a huge financial hit.
Overall, his legacy has been further tainted, and his chances of reaching some prolific home run milestones before hanging it up are less likely. As it stands, A-Rod has 647 round-trippers over the course of his 19-year career.