Jhonny Peralta's two-year, $11.25 contract with the Tigers is up after the 2013 season. (Robin Buckson / Detroit News)
New York— This week during All-Star festivities, both baseball’s commissioner, Bud Selig, and the players’ association chief, Michael Weiner, have made it clear that punishments are coming in the Biogenesis fallout.
It’s just a matter of when the suspensions will be handed down, and when, if ever, they will be served.
Weiner gave the first hint during a chat with baseball writers Tuesday, saying that if appealed, the suspensions likely wouldn’t be served until next season.
And that’s good news for the Tigers, or is it?
Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta is believed to be among as many as 20 players under investigation by Major League Baseball for allegedly being associated with a now-defunct clinic in south Florida that specialized in dealing performance-enhancing drugs.
The Tigers and Rangers (outfielder Nelson Cruz) are the two probable playoff teams bracing for a possible suspension of a prominent player.
If Peralta does, indeed, get slapped with a 50-game suspension — that appears to be the likely punishment for all except the headliners, Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez, who could be facing 100-game bans — appealing could drag the case into the offseason.
That could be good for a Tigers team that would rather not be facing a void at short down the stretch this year as it tries to win a third straight American League Central title.
But would an appeal actually be what’s best for Peralta, a free agent-to-be?
Keep in mind, appealing a PED suspension in front of the baseball lords is like trying to keep a yacht from sinking by plugging the leak with bubble gum. Really, it’s a last-ditch Hail Mary that, as far everyone knows, only has been successful a single time, by Braun, in a case that still ticks off baseball’s elite.
The players could have more of a shot this time, given that the evidence is circumstantial, and not based on positive drug tests. That said, the last time an arbitrator ruled against baseball, in Braun’s case, baseball fired said arbitrator. That speaks volumes.
So if Peralta does get a suspension, and it appears an appeal is a lost cause, it might be in his best interest to serve the penalty without a fight. Depending on when the suspensions are handed down, that could get him back in a Tigers uniform in time for the postseason — assuming they make the postseason without him; there is no ideal fall-back plan — or at least on the free-agent market without the dark cloud of a suspension hanging over him.
If Peralta were facing a 50-game suspension to start the 2014 season, there’s no telling if any ballclub would bother signing him this winter.
All could be forgiven, though, if he takes a ban without appeal. Given the year he has had, he then could be looking at a multi-year contract from somebody, including Detroit as a legit possibility. Look at Melky Cabrera, for example. He missed the last two months of last season because of a PED suspension, but given the season he was having, he still landed a two-year, $16 million contract from the Blue Jays over the winter.
Then again, there’s a very good chance the tight-knit players association would not likely kindly on any player, even one in Peralta’s situation, backing down from the fight. And, of course, if Peralta believes he’s innocent, he’s not likely to drop the fight, either.
Peralta, 31, is batting .303 with eight home runs and 46 RBIs and is an All-Star for the second time in three full seasons with the Tigers.
The Tigers and Peralta have declined comment on the matter from the beginning, and are near-certain to do so until the matter reaches a resolution.
The Biogenesis roundup could lead to MLB’s biggest mass suspension ever, even larger than the fallout of the 1919 Black Sox scandal or the 1980s Pittsburgh drug trials.
Associated Press contributed