Washington Nationals catcher Tres Barrera has been suspended 80 games as part of MLB’s PED testing program, per Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal. Barrera tested positive for Dehydrochlormethyltestosterone.
Per Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com, Barrera’s said through a statement that he “…never, and will never knowingly use a banned substance.” Barrera lost his appeal and will begin serving his suspension, despite his insistence that he does not know how the banned substance got into his system.
Interestingly, Barrera has gone so far as to reach out on Twitter to the lead investigator on the BALCO case. Further, there’s some debate about the particular substance for which Barrera tested positive. Turinabol is a bit of an outdated substance, and it would be surprising for someone in such a public testing protocol to chose it over more modern drugs that leave the bloodstream more quickly, per T.J. Quinn of ESPN (via Twitter). Even if Barrera wasn’t actively seeking PEDs, there’s still some potential culpability depending on how it was the drug entered his system. Still, there is at least some reason to hold off on judgment of Barrera until we know more.
If there’s a positive side to this for Barrera, it’s that he knows that this brand of suspension is not a death knell for his career. Raudy Read served a similar 80-game suspension last season and returned to his slot ahead of Barrera in the organizational depth chart.
Barrera, 25, made his major league debut last year with a pair of at-bats at the end of September. He figured to serve as catching depth on the 40-man roster behind Yan Gomes, Kurt Suzuki, and Read. Still, there was a decent chance that Barrera saw some major league action this year. With Welington Castillo opting out, Barrera’s suspension saps them of further catching depth. The major-league club should be okay with Gomes, Suzuki, and Read, but the suspension will likely push the Nats at add another catcher to their 60-player pool, if nothing else.
The Nats selected Barrera in the sixth round of the 2016 draft out of Texas. He was their regular catcher in Double-A last season, which rostered many of the Nats’ eventual call-ups because of the geographical distance of their Triple-A club. The Texas-native is a defensive-minded catcher whose glove has generally trended ahead of his bat. He authored a triple-slash of .249/.323/.381 across 403 plate appearances.