From the various rumors and leaks that have come out about the lengthy investigation of the Biogenesis clinic by Major League Baseball, it looks increasingly likely that Jhonny Peralta will face suspension. How bad would that be for the Detroit Tigers?
According to the APs Ronald Blum, player interviews are ongoing and may or may not be completed by mid-month. We might, might be looking at verdicts being handed down at the end of July – beginning the process of appeal and arbitration. We might not hear anything at all about potential punishments until the arbitrator rules and even then only if the suspension is upheld. These things take a long time and might be slowed further by the largish number of players involved in the investigation. We may be able to safely assume that, given that Peralta’s name is one of those initially leaked, that he is one of the “20 or so” who face disciplinary action. We can probably also safely assume that Peralta would face the standard 50-game suspension for first-time PED violations, like Melky Cabrera did last year.
We do not know details of any case against Peralta, and we may never know if he is not disciplined. It is not impossible that the case against him could be weak or circumstantial. If he is suspended, the key question would be when. Without appeal, a 50 game suspension handed down in early August would keep him out until approximately the end of the regular season (like Melky Cabrera). It might also begin after the non-waiver trade deadline. But, why would we assume that he wouldn’t appeal it? According to Blum it is highly likely that the long appeal and arbitration process would mean that Peralta would serve his suspension at the start of the 2014 season. I imagine this is the most likely scenario.
That wouldn’t impact this season at all – except for, potentially, distracting Peralta and hurting his production down the stretch. But, it would have some interesting impacts on the Tigers offseason decisions. Obviously, in addition to questions about sustainability of production that always arise when a player is fingered for PEDs, a suspension hanging over his head would impact Peralta’s appeal on the free agent market tremendously. Who wants to sign a guy that can’t play until June? Not a team that desperately needs a shortstop – and if they don’t need a shortstop…
The Tigers will probably be one of those teams that desperately needs a shortstop, due to a lack of quality options in the organization at that position, that would otherwise be interested in re-signing Peralta. On that count, a suspension would decrease the likelihood of an extension for him. Perhaps increasing the likelihood of pursuing another free agent option. On the other hand, the Tigers might also be a team looking for bargains if bargains can be found, and a bargain he might be. Would a price of 50 games of Danny Worth be worth it to save $5 million per year on a 2-year contract for Jhonny? Maybe, maybe.
That’s probably the best-case scenario for the Tigers, potentially better (as cruel as that sounds) than Peralta getting off scot-free. The worst case scenario would be a relatively quick appeal process with a verdict handed down in September after not only the non-waiver deadline but also the waiver deadline. Peralta would be out for the last weeks of the season and the postseason as well and the Tigers left with no option but to finish a pennant run and hopefully a playoff run with the worn-out husk of Ramon Santiago as their starting shortstop. It will be up to the Tigers front office to determine how real a possibility this is and whether the risk alone is worth making costly moves. My gut says that they’ll simply gamble on a lengthy appeal.