This past weekend I briefly mentioned and explored the fact that the Tigers do not have any middle infielders on their major league roster that are under contract for next season. The Tigers face a pair of dilemmas with respect to this fact – namely that they (1) don’t appear to have a lot of payroll space to sign players and (2) don’t have many (any) real internal options kicking around in the minor leagues.
My initial thought at the time was that, despite the aparent lack of available free agent dollars, the team would pursue new deals with both Jhonny Peralta and Omar Infante to bring the current duo back for another season (with Ramon Santiago not being brought back and Danny Worth serving as a bench utility player). But the recent news of potentially looming Biogenesis related PED suspensions may change the Tigers’ course of action.
The initial ESPN reports seemed to indicate that the league was ready, willing, and able to move on the suspensions quickly, but the primary consensus among baseball writers (and the like) in the meantime has been that the suspensions – if they ever materialize – are not likely to be served for months due to the enevitability of a lengthy appeals process. Here’s what Craig Calcaterra had to say yesterday at Hardball Talk:
It could take a while. According to the ESPN report, Major League Baseball has yet to interview Anthony Bosch. Further, according to a statement issued by the Major League Baseball Players’ Association, Major League Baseball is “in process of interviewing players ” and the league “has assured us no decisions regarding discipline have been made.” This means that the league is still in fact-finding mode. It is still building its case against the players and has yet to even talk to the man who is expected to do most of the heavy lifting in that building: Bosch. It’s unclear how long that building may take, but it’s not unreasonable to think it could be weeks or even months.
We have no idea even if Peralta is a player that will eventually be hit with a first timer’s 50-game ban, but, even if he is, there’s a very real possibility that it is not handed down to him until this season concludes (depending on how long “it could be months” actually takes).
If the Tigers get through the season and the playoffs (hopefully there’s playoffs) while Major League Baseball is still either in the fact-finding phase or appeals phase, would they (i.e. the Tigers) still consider Peralta an option to bring back for 2014? I see arguments on both sides:
NO, THEY CERTAINLY SHOULDN’T. The Tigers will likely be in position as the favorites in the AL Central again next season and they won’t be able to take the risk that their starting shortstop would be out for a third of the season. The suspension would be without pay, so it isn’t really a question of wasting money, but there would be a potentially high opportunity cost. It would be better to let him walk and let someone else deal with his alleged link to Tony Bosch and the Biogenesis Clinic.
YES, THEY SHOULD TRY TO BRING HIM BACK. The threat of a possible suspension may combine with other factors (age, limited defensive abilities) to soften the market for Jhonny. Instead of a chance for a multi-year deal, Peralta may be facing only one-year offers for less-than-otherwise-anticipated dollar amounts. In short, he may become exactly the type of player the potentially cash-strapped Tigers will be looking for. Heck, he may even win an appeal, prove to be falsely linked, or somehow otherwise beat the allegations. In that case, the Tigers might be getting themselves a bargain.
The timeline for this whole mess is going to be a wait-and-see process, but, if it doesn’t get sorted out ahead of time, Peralta’s Biogenesis link could change what direction the Tigers take as they head into the offseason.