Fernando Martinez Rumors
After months of speculation, we have some finality for a dozen of the players implicated in the Biogenesis scandal. Major League Baseball has officially announced 50-game suspensions for Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta, Everth Cabrera, Antonio Bastardo, Jesus Montero, Francisco Cervelli, Jordany Valdespin, Fautino De Los Santos, Jordan Norberto, Cesar Puello, Fernando Martinez and Sergio Escalona.
All of those players will accept their suspensions, while Alex Rodriguez, who was suspended for 211 games (effective Aug. 8), will appeal his suspension and be eligible to play until that process is complete.
The suspensions carry particular weight for the Rangers and Tigers. The Rangers, who are 2.5 games back of the A's in the AL West and just a half-game behind the Indians for a Wild Card berth, will lose their starting right-fielder and club home run leader in Cruz for the remainder of the regular season.
The Tigers will lose Peralta, their starting shortstop, for the remainder of the season as they look to fend off surging Cleveland and Kansas City clubs and win the American League Central division. Detroit safeguarded itself somewhat against the loss of Perata by acquiring Jose Iglesias in a three-team deal with the White Sox and Red Sox prior to the trade deadline.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today was the first to tweet that Cruz would accept his suspension. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first tweeted that Peralta, Cabrera, Bastardo and Valdespin would also accept 50-game bans. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports added Escalona to the list (Twitter link), and Rosenthal reported that Cervelli, Montero, Puello, De Los Santos, Martinez and Norberto would do the same (on Twitter).
Alex Rodriguez and 12 other players will be suspended for their involvement with Biogenesis, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Earlier today, we learned Rodriguez is to be suspended through the 2014 season and Heyman names Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta, Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, Mariners catcher Jesus Montero, Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera, and Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli among the Major League players also expected to be suspended, as well as minor leaguers Fernando Martinez, Jordan Norberto, Fautino de los Santos, and Cesar Puello. Heyman adds there are also three players on the suspension list whose names have yet to become public.
Heyman writes Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera, A's right-hander Bartolo Colon, and Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal will not be suspended in connection with Biogenesis, as they have served 50-game penalties already.
All or almost all of the other 12 players are expected to accept 50-game suspensions, though there could be an additional holdout or two for appeal beyond Rodriguez, reports Heyman. All the players have the option to appeal, but it is believed close to all of them have made agreements for 50-game bans with MLB, Heyman adds. Players who appeal are eligible to keep playing until their case is heard.
Cruz told reporters, including MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, "I haven't decided what I'm going to do about anything. It's not just about myself, it's also about the team." Today is the 112th game played by the Rangers, so Cruz would be eligible to return for the playoffs (assuming Texas reaches the post-season), if he serves a 50-game suspension beginning Monday. Sullivan surmises the Rangers will recall an outfielder from the minors adding Manny Ramirez is not an option and manager Ron Washington is reluctant to use Jurickson Profar in the outfield. Regardless of what the Rangers end up doing, assistant GM Thad Levine acknowledges, "At this stage of the season, that's a difficult bat to replace."
Martinez, 24, has been less-than-stellar in 35 plate appearances for the Astros this season. In his five years for the Astros and Mets, the left-handed hitting outfielder has a .206/.269/.362 slash line. Martinez was once considered to be a promising farmhand in the Mets' system and was ranked as high as No. 22 across the minors by Baseball America prior to the 2007 season.
Basford, 22, has spend the last two seasons with the Yankees' New York-Penn League affiliate. In 19 relief appearances, the right-hander has a 5.13 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9.
9:46pm: Besides Braun and Rodriguez, "other major, major names" are also involved in the Biogenesis case, a source tells Bob Klapsich of the Bergen Record (Twitter link).
6:56pm: Major League Baseball is planning to suspend at least 20 players connected to Biogenesis, the Miami clinic under investigation for supplying performance-enhancing drugs, reports T.J. Quinn, Pedro Gomez and Mike Fish of ESPN's Outside The Lines. Biogenesis founder Tony Bosch has agreed to cooperate with the investigation and begin naming players, with suspensions possibly following within two weeks.
The list of possible suspensions includes Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Bartolo Colon, Yasmani Grandal, Francisco Cervelli, Jesus Montero, Jhonny Peralta, Cesar Puello, Fernando Martinez, Everth Cabrera, Fautino de los Santos and Jordan Norberto, plus others who are named in documents that the ESPN team haven't had access to, or are known under code names.
MLB officials have also investigated a possible connection between Biogenesis and Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, as the spokeswoman for Cano's foundation (Sonia Cruz) has had her name appear in some clinic documents. Nationals southpaw Gio Gonzalez isn't expected to face suspension for his connection to Biogenesis since the products he obtained from the clinic weren't banned.
The league could look for a 100-game suspension (the penalty for second-time PED offenders) for Rodriguez, Braun and other first-time offenders since both the connection to Biogenesis and previous denials to MLB officials would serve as seperate offenses. It is unknown how MLB would deal with players like Cabrera or Colon who already have PED suspensions on their record, though these players probably wouldn't face a lifetime ban as three-time offenders -- their prior suspensions would likely count as their so-called "first strike," with this next violation putting them in line for 100-game suspensions as well.
Quinn/Gomez/Fish report that, as expected, the accused players will challenge any possible suspensions and it could be difficult for the league to obtain corroborating evidence in the appeals process beyond Bosch's testimony.
We'll keep an eye on today's minor moves right here:
- Astros outfielder Fernando Martinez has been outrighted to Triple-A, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports (Twitter link). Martinez was designated for assignment by the club earlier this week.
- Edgar Gonzalez has elected to become a free agent after clearing waivers, Sportsnet's Shi Davidi reports (via Twitter). Gonzalez was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays two days ago and he chose free agency rather than report to Triple-A Buffalo. The right-hander posted a 7.88 ERA in eight innings pitched with Toronto this season.
- The Royals have released right-handed relief pitcher Dan Wheeler, tweets Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. Wheeler, 35, had been pitching for the Royals' Triple-A affiliate, where he struggled to a 9.00 ERA over 15 innings with a substandard 2.200 WHIP. Last year, Wheeler made just twelve appearances for the Indians and was similarly ineffective, pitching to an 8.76 ERA. Between 2003-2011, Wheeler made no fewer than 35 big league appearances per season. His best seasons came with the Astros in 2005-06, when he logged over 70 innings a year and posted consecutive 2.21 and 2.52 ERA marks.
The Astros announced that they have designated outfielders Rick Ankiel and Fernando Martinez for assignment via team press release. In related moves, Trevor Crowe and Jimmy Paredes have been called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City, J.D. Martinez has been activated from the disabled list and Brandon Laird has been optioned to Triple-A.
Ankiel, 33, hit .194/.231/.484 with five homers in 65 plate appearances for the Astros. He will forever hold the distinction of being the first Astro to homer following their shift to the American League. Since reviving his career as an outfielder in 2007, the former Cardinals pitcher has batted .244/.306/.430 in 1948 plate appearances.
Martinez, still just 24 years of age, was long hailed as one of the crown jewels of the Mets' farm system. It was considered a coup for the Mets when they were able to acquire Johan Santana from the Twins without including him in the package, but his star has faded since that time. After being cut loose from the Mets' 40-man roster, the Astros claimed him on waivers in January 2012. Martinez has hit just .206/.269/.362 in 310 big league plate appearances, though he does hold a respectable .279/.337/.474 batting line in 1119 career plate appearances at Triple-A.
Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez was one of several players whose names were found in the records of Biogenesis, a Miami clinic linked to PEDs, as revealed last month by the Miami New Times. According to a new report from ESPN's Mike Fish and T.J. Quinn, however, none of the substances that Gonzalez allegedly purchased are banned by Major League Baseball. Gonzalez has denied any personal involvement with Biogenesis, though his father is a client of the clinic.
Here are some more items from around the NL East...
- Fish and Quinn cite Mets outfield prospect Cesar Puello as one of the new names listed as having received PEDs from Biogenesis. Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera, Athletics left-hander Jordan Norberto, Padres right-hander Fautino De Los Santos and Astros outfielder Fernando Martinez were also named.
- After six seasons as a pitcher, Micah Owings is trying to make the Nationals' roster as a first baseman. Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post chronicles Owings' decision to make the move, which included a talk with Rick Ankiel, another pitcher-turned-hitter. Owings, who signed a minor league deal with the Nats earlier this month, has a .283/.310/.502 line in 219 career Major League plate appearances.
- Giancarlo Stanton has been the subject of trade rumors for much of the offseason but CBS Sports' Jon Heyman hears from the Marlins that Stanton is "not going anywhere" (Twitter link). We heard last month that Miami wasn't considering a Stanton deal and hadn't even internally discussed such a move.
- The Phillies' acquisition of Michael Young was the team's best offseason move, Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer opines. Brookover favored Young over free agent third base options like Kevin Youkilis and Mark Reynolds due to the ex-Ranger's durability and clubhouse leadership.
Earlier today, we learned the Nationals signed outfielder/first baseman Xavier Nady to a minor league contract, adding insurance for Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche, who are both battling injuries. Here's more on the Nats and a couple other items of note ...
- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel implied that his team may look for infield help outside of camp now that Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Placido Polanco are all dealing with injuries, writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. We heard earlier today that the Phils could be interested in someone like utility man Mike Aviles of the Red Sox, although Aviles is tentatively slated to be Boston's starting shortstop as of now.
- The Nationals optioned prized prospect Bryce Harper to minor league camp, the team announced. The Nats will go with an in-house option such as Roger Bernadina and/or Rick Ankiel in center field, a source tells Bill Ladson of MLB.com, with Jayson Werth playing right field. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, for one, doesn't think Harper's demotion was related to his arbitration or free-agent clocks (via Twitter).
- Mets manager Terry Collins said Fernando Martinez, now with the Astros, was waived this offseason because the outfielder was unable to stay healthy, writes Paul Hagen of MLB.com. "I know his talent. I know he's got great talent. Unfortunately, he's been one of those guys who's had a tough time getting the amount of games that I think you have to have to get ready." Martinez, for his part, said he was surprised that the Mets chose to waive him, thinking instead that he thought at times that a trade was possible.
1:35pm: The Astros claimed Martinez, tweets ESPNNewYork's Adam Rubin. They had the first crack at Martinez in the waiver process, with MLB's worst record in 2011.
Baseball America named Martinez one of the top 100 prospects in the game before each of the 2007-10 seasons, and at age 23, he's worth a 40-man roster spot for new Houston GM Jeff Luhnow. Injuries, selectivity, and plate coverage have limited Martinez thus far, wrote Baseball America a year ago.
- One scout guaranteed to ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark that at least five teams will claim Mets outfielder Fernando Martinez, who is now on waivers (Twitter link).
- The Mets are close to finalizing the sale of at least five $20MM shares in the team, according to Andy Martino, Bill Madden and Teri Thompson of the New York Daily News. MLB has approved the potential investors, so the Mets should raise more than $100MM within the month, the Daily News reports.
- Phillies assistant GM Scott Proefrock said on Comcast SportsNet that the team has had discussions with Cole Hamels and expects to sign him to a one-year deal, according to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. I discussed a possible extension for Hamels last month. The left-hander will be eligible for free agency following the 2012 season.