I’m not sure if you recall, but a few days ago, I wrote a piece on how there are only a few dozen players in all of Major League Baseball who I’d actually pay to watch play. One of those players, and someone very high on my list of ‘most exciting players in baseball’ was Starling Marte, who sadly tested positive for performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) earlier this week.
Marte will begin serving his 80-game suspension immediately. In addition to the suspension, his punishment also includes forfeiting the portion of his salary he would have earned during those 80 games (which amounts to a little less than $2.5 million), and is also not permitted to play during the post-season if the Pirates were to make it. My immediate thought when considering these punishments is that it seems fairly strict, I mean half a season is a decent amount of time off. But when you consider that players are still willing to risk being caught and penalized under the current system, one has to wonder if the punishment needs to be even stiffer than it already is. Texas Rangers reliever Jake Diekman made an interesting comment about Marte’s positive test and what he feels the punishment should be.
You get suspended, you make the minimum for the rest of your career. Take something they care about.
— Jake Diekman (@JakeDiekman) April 18, 2017
The main reason for Diekman’s firm stance with respect to this sort of behaviour, is that he believes a player taking PEDs is taking a job away from someone who plays clean and doesn’t reap the benefits of these banned substances. Although that most certainly is the case when it comes to a fringe player who’s been caught, when it comes to a more talented player such as Marte or Ryan Braun, chances are, whether they’re on or off PEDs, they likely aren’t taking a major league job from anyone.
What bothers me almost as much as the fact that players are still taking this crap, is that they continue to deny doing it, rather than coming out and being honest about what happened. If caught, man-up and admit to what you did. It’s hard to believe, but you’d probably do a little bit to help your already tarnished reputation, and perhaps even earn back a bit of respect.
After it’s all said and done, and Marte has served his suspension, he’s still owed over $20 million by the Pirates for the remainder of 2017, 2018, and 2019. Not to mention team options in 2020 and 2021. His current contract was completed back in March of 2014, still three years prior to when Marte was even set to hit free agency. Now lets assume Marte was putting up inflated numbers before signing this contract because he was taking PEDs, what then should become of this contract? I find it puzzling that these players are still permitted to be paid under such a contract considering the now shady circumstances of how they earned it. I know a lot of people will argue that Marte may not have even been taking PEDs prior to signing his contact in 2014, and that’s completely possible, he may very well have not been taking anything back then. But what if he was, and just happened to be beating the drug testers…you’d think then something should be done about this massive contract he earned under false pretenses.
I like the 80-game suspension, it’s a fitting amount of time to miss for a first time offender. I also agree with Diekman that a player should go back to making the league minimum after testing positive. Unlike Diekman’s idea of having it last the entire length of a players career though, have that player make the league minimum only until they’ve played long enough to become a free agent, then see just how willing teams are to pay for this kind of player.