Red Sox right-hander Steven Wright has been suspended 80 games, without pay, after testing positive for Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide 2 (GHRP-2), the league announced Wednesday. He’ll be placed on the restricted list — thus freeing a 40-man roster spot for the Red Sox — and miss the first half of the season. Wright will also be ineligible to participate in the 2019 postseason. The Red Sox organization has issued the following statement:
The Boston Red Sox fully support Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and its efforts to eliminate performance-enhancing substances from the game. While we are disappointed by the news of this violation, we will look to provide the appropriate support to Steven at this time. Going forward, the club will not comment further on the matter.
This’ll be the second straight season in which Wright will be suspended for off-field actions, as he served a 15-game suspension under the league’s domestic abuse policy in 2018, as well. MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo tweets that Wright tested positive in the offseason and appealed the suspension, though he only learned the result of his appeal last night.
Wright agreed to a $1.375MM salary for the 2019 campaign this winter, avoiding arbitration, and will forfeit approximately half of that sum as a result of the PED infraction. As is the case in virtually every PED suspension, Wright issued a statement via the MLBPA expressing bewilderment and claiming that he’s “never intentionally ingested anything for performance-enhancing purposes.”
The loss of Wright will further thin out a Red Sox bullpen that has already lost Joe Kelly to the Dodgers via free agency (three years, $25MM) and seems quite likely to go without yet-unsigned free agent Craig Kimbrel as well. Wright, a knuckleballer, worked to a stellar 2.68 ERA with 7.0 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9 in 53 2/3 innings of relief last season, though his season was shortened not only by the aforementioned domestic violence suspension but also a pair of DL stints pertaining to inflammation in his left knee.
Wright’s suspension will nominally nudge the Red Sox a bit further from the top luxury tax line — though by nowhere near enough that it’d prompt the team to make a significant bullpen expenditure. Boston sat roughly $4.7MM south of that $246MM barrier, so Wright’s suspension will push the team closer to $5.4MM shy of the top penalty bracket. Factoring in the tax they were paying on that salary, the suspension will cut about $980K, although they’ll of course have to replace Wright in the ’pen in some capacity — likely with a league-minimum earner.