The former Texas Rangers outfielder, also suspended last season over his involvement with Anthony Bosch’s crooked Florida clinic, is expected to fetch at least $75 million as a free agent this winter. As a considerably better player than Peralta, Cruz will probably get it.
I can’t help but wonder where those up in arms over these contracts have been. What did they expect would happen – that players who have been consistently good for a number of years would not receive substantial raises in an open market?
Did they think the stigma that goes with suspected PED use and an associated suspension would artificially limit the future value of these players, both in terms of dollars and years? If so, shame on them for not understanding free agency.
Based on the spirited bidding, teams are clearly not overly worried about performance dropoffs for Peralta and Cruz down the road. It raises an interesting side question as to how clubs perceive benefits of PEDs on the field, or more appropriately perhaps, lack of benefits.
This past week, the focal point for player complaints was Arizona union rep Brad Ziegler. Via Twitter, the veteran reliever blasted owners for rewarding cheaters and accused them of opposing stricter penalties.
Let’s step back for a minute.
If the current penalties are perceived to not be working, then those empowered to make change should consider it – for the future. But it is not reasonable to put the same players on trial a second time later when/if stronger sentencing guidelines are passed. After all, double-jeopardy is illegal.
Cruz, Peralta and the other Biogenesis accused – at least those not named A-Rod – have served their time based on the rules in place – rules that were jointly negotiated by players and owners.
The man who signed Peralta, St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak, directly disagreed with Ziegler’s assertion that the owners are standing in the way of tougher penalties. In his Monday press conference, Mozeliak noted that if the union brings forward a new proposal, MLB would almost certainly support it.
Even with longer suspensions though, it is very difficult to see how a player’s future earnings potential would be significantly hurt once the penalties are served – unless a lifetime ban is sentenced for a first offense.
Consider this. Even if Peralta and Cruz would have had to sit out an entire season instead of 50 games as first-time offenders, wouldn’t they still get big three- or four-year deals after their time outs were served? I firmly believe they would.
Sure, they would lose a lot more money in the year of suspension, but that has nothing to do with their market value in year two and beyond.
Even if one thinks penalties should be extended into the future, it seems quite problematic to try to come up with a way to practically make it work.
For example, it would be unrealistic (and probably illegal) to artificially force once-suspended players to accept short-term contracts or not be allowed to receive raises after their suspensions were served.
For those who suggest the 30 teams should get together and informally agree to limit contracts for previously-suspended players – that is called collusion and is definitely unlawful. Any legitimate solution would have to be able to pass the sunshine test.
Until folks get their heads around the difference between penalties at the point of infraction versus the future earnings potential of the players, there will continue to be angst over these new contracts.
It is easy to cry “foul,” act surprised and express outrage over what is happening this winter. It will be a lot tougher to actually come up with a fair way to fix the perceived problem.
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