Major League Baseball announced this afternoon that three players — reliever Richard Rodríguez, utilityman Danny Santana and infielder José Rondón — have each been suspended for 80 games after testing positive for the performance-enhancing substance Boldenone. All three are currently free agents. PED testing had been suspended during the lockout, but Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal reports (0n Twitter) that the trio tested positive before the work stoppage.
Rodríguez was one of the higher-profile remaining free agents, and today’s suspension offers insight into why he’s yet to sign. The 32-year-old isn’t far removed from being an excellent late-game option for the Pirates. Over three and a half seasons in Pittsburgh, he posted a 2.98 ERA in 196 1/3 innings of relief. Along the way, he punched out a strong 27.2% of batters faced while walking just 6.5% of opponents.
The rebuilding Bucs traded Rodríguez to the Braves at this past summer’s trade deadline. The 32-year-old’s performance dipped at the end of the year. While he managed a respectable 3.12 ERA in 26 innings as a Brave, he surrounded six home runs and struck out only nine batters in that time. Atlanta non-tendered Rodríguez at the end of the year. The Pirates were reported to have interest in a reunion in December, but it stands to reason the failed PED test put a damper on that pursuit.
Santana, 31, has appeared in the majors in each of the last eight seasons. Known for his speed and defensive versatility, the switch-hitting Santana has mixed in some solid showings at the plate but has an up-and-down overall track record. He’s coming off a tough year in which he hit just .181/.252/.345 with five homers and four steals over 38 games with the Red Sox.
Rondón has played in parts of four seasons, never tallying more than 157 plate appearances in a year. A right-handed hitting utility infielder, he owns a .216/.274/.353 slash in 380 career trips to the dish. Rondón had a respectable .263/.322/.413 showing in limited playing time with the Cardinals last season, but St. Louis non-tendered him in November.