Melky Cabrera could be in big trouble with MLB

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Melky Cabrera could be in big trouble with MLB

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- An associate of San Francisco Giants All-Star Melky Cabrera purchased a website and attempted to create evidence to support a claim that the outfielder inadvertently took the substance that caused a positive drug test, Major League Baseball said. Baseball officials uncovered the scheme as Cabrera prepared his case to challenge the test. Cabrera's grievance then was dropped, and MLB announced a 50-game suspension Wednesday. The New York Daily News first reported on the scheme Sunday. A team of six-to-seven investigators from MLB spent several weeks working to uncover the plan, a baseball official familiar with the probe told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because MLB didn't authorize anyone to discuss the matter publicly. It's the first such case MLB has had and officials hope that uncovering the scheme will discourage similar attempts. The person said baseball had referred the case to federal investigators. A second baseball official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said additional discipline against Cabrera was unlikely. Cabrera, MVP of the All-Star game last month, tested positive for testosterone, MLB said. The person said Juan Nunez, who works with Cabrera's agents, purchased an existing website and attempted to alter it in a manner that would allow Cabrera to claim the positive test was caused by a substance obtained through the website. The News reported Nunez paid 10,000 for the website. "If you create a new website, you would know when the website was created," the baseball official said. "At least they were smart enough to buy an existing website." The baseball official said MLB investigators were able to use their forensic resources to trace the website back to Nunez. Cabrera is represented by brothers Sam and Seth Levinson of ACES, a sports management company based in Brooklyn. The Levinsons told the Daily News that Nunez was a "paid consultant" of their agency. "The MLBPA has clearly stated that ACES has no connection to the website or this matter and, as reported, Juan Nunez has taken full responsibility for his acts," Seth Levinson told The Associated Press. "There is nothing more we can add and we will allow our reputation in the industry for 27 years to speak for itself." The second baseball official said MLB intends to ask the Major League Baseball Players Association, which regulates agents, to follow up on the situation at ACES. Cabrera was enjoying the best season of his big league career, helping the Giants contend for a postseason berth. He was hitting .346 with 11 homers and 60 RBIs, but will miss the rest of the regular season and the start of the playoffs, if the Giants advance that far. A former member of the New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves and Kansas City Royals, Cabrera is eligible for free agency after the World Series. San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy declined to discuss the allegations against Cabrera before the Giants played the Padres in San Diego. He didn't defend his player's actions, either. "You can be world-class parents and your kids can go south or have some issues. We can't follow guys 247, and it comes down to choices. (Cabrera) is a grown man, he's a veteran," Bochy said. "These are unfortunate things and we'll continue to work at cleaning out baseball."

Dexter Fowler leaves Cubs, signs $82.5 million deal with Cardinals

Dexter Fowler leaves Cubs, signs $82.5 million deal with Cardinals

ST. LOUIS -- Dexter Fowler is headed from the World Series champions to their biggest rival.

After helping the Chicago Cubs end their long championship drought, he finalized an $82.5 million, five-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday. Fowler fills the last big hole left in the Cardinals lineup after moves made earlier in the offseason to shore up the bullpen.

"It was an honor just to be considered to be in the Cardinals organization," said Fowler, who will wear No. 25 in honor of his mentor, Barry Bonds, because his usual 24 is retired by the Cardinals.

"You play against the Cardinals, I've been playing against them for eight years now," Fowler said, "and they always come out fighting. Always fighting. And then being with a rival, being the Cubs however many times we play them a year, you see them and - it's always good a winning team wants you."

Fowler was also a free agent a year ago, when he spurned a $33 million, three-year offer from Baltimore, who refused to offer an opt out after one year, and signed a $13 million, one-year deal with the Chicago Cubs. He hit .276 with 13 homers and a career-best .393 on-base percentage that landed him in his first All-Star Game, then had a pair of home runs in helping the Cubs win their first World Series title in 108 years.

"Playing over there, and playing against the Cardinals, you see them and you saw that they weren't far away," Fowler said. "Obviously they beat up on us, we beat up on them. It was almost even. It was one day or another. I can't put my finger on one thing or another, but we're definitely close."

His new deal calls for a $10 million signing bonus, payable in $1 million installments each July 1 and Oct. 1 for the next five years, and annual salaries of $14.5 million.

He gets a full no-trade provision, $50,000 bonuses for making the All-Star Game and winning a Gold Glove, a $25,000 bonus for a Silver Slugger, $100,000 for League Championship Series MVP and $150,000 for World Series MVP. He would get $250,000 for NL MVP, $150,000 for finishing second in voting and $100,000 for third through fifth. He would get $50,000 for Division Series MVP if the award is created.

One of the goals this offseason for St. Louis was to get more athletic, both defensively and on the base paths. Fowler was identified early in the process as someone who filled that role.

"He was always someone we were hoping to sign," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said, "but after this past week at winter meetings ... we certainly wanted to get this done. And we're excited we got this done."

The lanky 30-year-old from Atlanta is a .268 career hitter over nine seasons with Colorado, Houston and the Cubs. He's expected to slot into the Cardinals' leadoff spot, giving St. Louis a switch-hitter in front of lefty-hitting Matt Carpenter and righties Aledmys Diaz, Stephen Piscotty and Yadier Molina.

"You obviously have great presence at the top of the lineup," manager Mike Matheny said. "The athleticism, the excitement of bringing in a player that has all those physical attributes, I think it's been well-said, this is the guy we were hoping to be sitting up here with."

Fowler said negotiations with the Cardinals were easy with one notable exception.

"We were on a 2-hour time difference, and I guess he wanted to get in touch with me," Fowler said, "but I was in the dentist chair, so he couldn't get in touch."

So, Fowler sent his agent Casey Close a photo of him to pass along to Mozeliak - "That was a first for me, that kind of photo," the GM said - and everything proceeded smoothly after that.

The news of his signing started breaking while Fowler was on a plane to St. Louis, and that also created some problems: namely, with his sleep. People started coming up to him while he was trying to take a nap and asking him whether the news was true.

"I was like, 'Uh, you know, I don't know,'" Fowler said with a grin. "It was definitely funny."

Fowler is eager to help the Cardinals add their 12th World Series championship.

"This is a baseball city," said Fowler. "The fans, every time you come here, you see red everywhere. That's awesome to see. Even going through our parade (in Chicago), you saw Cardinals fans out there. They've won World Series (and) they're poised to be back in the World Series and win again. That was a big part of my decision."

The Cardinals were investigating the trade market for an outfielder during the winter meetings, but decided Fowler was their best option. Because Fowler did not accept Chicago's $17.2 million qualifying offer, St. Louis forfeits its top draft pick next June, No. 18 overall, and the Cubs get an extra selection after the first round as compensation

It was a sacrifice the Cardinals were willing to make to not only improve their lineup, but snag a piece away from their biggest rival in the NL Central.

"There's always the baseball angle in all decisions, but there's also the human element," Mozeliak said. "We think about him as a leader. He wants to have a voice in that clubhouse. When you think back to wanting to change the culture of what we have going on - we like what we have, but now it's even better."

Giants' 2015 first-round draft pick suspended 50 games

Giants' 2015 first-round draft pick suspended 50 games

Former Giants pitching prospect Phil Bickford is suspended for the first 50 games of the 2017 Carolina League season for a second positive test for drug of abuse, MLB announced on Friday.

Before the 2016 deadline, San Francisco traded the 21-year old (along with Andrew Susac) to the Brewers in exchange for left-handed reliever Will Smith.

The Giants selected Bickford with the 18th overall pick in the 2015 draft.

Over 11 starts for Single-A Augusta last year, the right-hander went 3-4 with a 2.70 ERA.

In six starts for Single-A San Jose, he went 2-2 with a 2.73 ERA.