Paul White and Matt Slovin, USA TODAY Sports
The 65-game suspension of Ryan Braun, though the specifics of his violation have not been revealed, increases the cloud over other players who have been linked to Major League Baseball's investigation into performance-enhancing drugs and the Biogenesis clinic in Miami.
It also underscores the position of the Major League Baseball Players' Association that it will not protect guilty players. Union executive director Michael Weiner said last week at the All-Star Game that the union would make sure players are accorded due process through appeals and even arbitration, but that guilty players would have to decide on their own how to handle their cases.
The announcement in the Braun case also falls into line with Weiner's expressed hope that those processes would play out before any suspensions are announced. That's what happened in this case.
The Braun suspension also adds a twist to Weiner's suggestion that the process probably would push any suspensions into next season. That still would hold for any players who appeal.
And it confirmed that suspensions won't necessarily be the 50- and 100-game lengths when players fail a drug test. Weiner admits MLB could decide on suspensions "from five to 500 games" because the specific bans of 50 and 100 games are linked to players who test positive in the normal testing program. Violations linked to Biogenesis come from evidence obtained by other means and aren't bound to the program's prescribed lengths.
Strategy even could play a part in some cases, as it often does when players receive suspensions for on-field actions such as fights or hit batters.
Braun's Brewers are in the midst of what has become a lost season. They're well out of the playoff race and have had numerous key injuries. By taking his suspension now, Braun would be available for a fresh start for himself and his team next spring.
However, if a player realizes he is unlikely to avoid a suspension, he could follow Braun's lead and agree to a quick resolution.
Most players who have been linked with the investigation already have been interviewed by MLB and, by now, probably have a good idea of what kind of evidence might exist against them. That just increases the speculation about more possible plea bargains and even creates more questions about why the scheduled return of Alex Rodriguez to the New York Yankees Monday night was delayed, even though the reason given was a quad strain suffered in a minor league rehab game.
The publicly-known case against Rodriguez and many others - based largely on reporting conducted by the Miami New Times - already is considerable. That Braun accepted a 65-game suspension likely indicates evidence obtained by MLB - at least partially through clinic founder Tony Bosch - is deep and damning.
A closer look at players who have been linked to the Biogenesis investigation.
3B Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
Rodriguez, being baseball's highest-paid player, a two-time Most Valuable Player and the active home run leader, is the most accomplished player who has been mentioned.
One of his MVP seasons, 2003, has already been tarnished after he admitted in 2009 to using performance-enhancing drugs from 2001-03. But according to the Miami New Times story that alleges Rodriguez received human growth hormone and testosterone from Biogenesis head Anthony Bosch, he continued taking banned substances as recently as 2012. According to an ESPN story, Bosch personally injected Rodriguez. Despite his admission, Rodriguez has never been suspended for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy.
Rodriguez was scheduled to return from offseason hip surgery Monday night but the Yankees said he suffered a setback with a strained quad in over the weekend and health status is uncertain.
RF Nelson Cruz, Rangers
Cruz, who made the All-Star team this season for the second time in his career, had never before been linked to performance-enhancing drugs. But according to the New Times story, Bosch's client list for 2012 includes a $4,000 sale to the Rangers slugger. The New Times also cited notes from Bosch that contained plans for a visit to the Dallas area to meet with Cruz and provide him with "meds."
Cruz has said he was "shocked" when he learned of the accusations, though they didn't seem to impact his play in the season's first half. His 69 RBI are enough for fifth in the American League. Unlike Braun's Brewers, Cruz's Rangers are in the thick of the American League West and wild-card races.
Also unlike Braun, Cruz does not have long-term financial security; he is a free agent after this season and any suspension that extends into 2013 would negatively impact his value to a new employer.
RHP Bartolo Colon, Athletics
Colon is another All-Star from this season. Last August, he was suspended 50 games by MLB after a positive test for synthetic testosterone.
Colon's career appeared to be nearing an end in 2010 when he sat out the season with a slew of arm injuries. But his career was resuscitated after stem-cell surgery conducted by an doctor who has used human growth hormone in past procedures. MLB investigated and found found no wrongdoing.
LF Melky Cabrera, Blue Jays
Last August, as a member of the San Francisco Giants, he was given a 50-game suspension due to abnormally high testosterone levels, shortly after being chosen MVP of the All-Star Game. Cabrera, who was hitting .346 at the time of the suspension, later admitted to taking a banned substance and served his punishment without appeal. He was eligible to return during the Giants' run to the World Series but remained on the inactive list.
After his usage came to light, Cabrera, through an associate, created a website that peddled a topical cream that didn't actually exist. He had hoped his suspension could be reversed if it was proven that he didn't knowingly ingest a banned substance.
According to the New Times story, Cabrera's name was included 14 times in the Biogenesis records.
C Yasmani Grandal, Padres
Grandal attended high school in Miami Springs, Fla., and played his college ball at the University of Miami, not far from Biogenesis headquarters. Last November, the 24-year-old former first-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Reds tested positive for high testosterone. He served his 50-game suspension at the beginning of this season, before suffering significant MCL and ACL damage on a play at the plate on July 7, ending his season.
SS Everth Cabrera, Padres
Cabrera was the lone member of the Padres named to this year's All-Star team.
He told USA TODAY Sports in a Spanish language interview in July that his inclusion in the Biogenesis scandal wouldn't alter the authenticity of this season, which has been by far the best of his career. ESPN initially reported that Cabrera was on a list of Biogenesis clients. According to one such document obtained by ESPN, the shortstop had a $1,500 balance next to his name.
SS Jhonny Peralta, Tigers
Peralta is another 2013 All-Star. In February, after Peralta's name was found in Biogenesis records, Sports Illustrated quoted Peralta as saying, through an attorney, "I have never used performance-enhancing drugs. Period. Anybody who says otherwise is lying."
Like Cruz and Cabrera, Peralta is a client of the ACES agency. ACES came under investigation by MLB to determine whether agents Sam and Seth Levinson had direct knowledge of any performance-enhancing drugs received by their clients.
Monday night, Peralta and Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski declined to comment through the club's media relations staff.
LHP Gio Gonzalez, Nationals
Gonzalez won 21 games a year ago for the Nationals and is 7-3 so far this season. According to the New Times, Gonzalez's name is listed five times in Biogenesis notes, as well as the name of his father, Max.
"My son works very, very hard, and he's as clean as apple pie," Max Gonzalez told the New Times in its initial report.
OF Cesar Puello, Mets
Puello was the only non-major league roster player named in ESPN's Biogenesis report. The 22-year-old has been spending this season with Class AA Binghamton (N.Y.), where he is leading the Eastern League with a .332 batting average. He is on the Mets' 40-man roster and would be subject to discipline under the major league policy.