Major League Baseball is investigating whether Seth and SamLevinson, agents to Giants leftfielder Melky Cabrera, arranged a relationshipbetween former client Paul Lo Duca and steroid distributor Kirk Radomski, BobNightengale of USATODAY reported.Nightengale, citing three people with knowledge of MLBsinvestigation, reported that Lo Duca alledged that the Levinsons introduced himto Radomski and set up a checking account for Lo Duca to pay Radomski forperformance-enhancing drugs.The investigation was sparked by Cabreras positive test fortestosterone two weeks ago for which he was suspended 50 games. In an attemptto beat the charges, Cabrera and his associate Juan Nunez created a falsewebsite to try to create the defense that Cabreras positive test was theresult of a tainted product purchased over the Internet. The Levinsons told theNew York Daily News that Nunez was a paid consultant of their firm, ACES Inc.but not an employee.There is absolutely no truth to the allegation that eitherof us had any involvement in procuring performance-enhancing drugs for MelkyCabrera or any other baseball players, the Levinsons said in a statementissued last week by a criminal defense lawyer. Nor did we have knowledge thatanyone else was doing so.MLB is also looking into Cabreras Miami-based trainer, Cesar Paublini, USA TODAY reported, but Paublinisaid he hadnt been contacted by MLB. He also said he had never met theLevinsons but that Cabrera had once introduced him to Nunez.The Mitchell Report first revealed Lo Ducas relationshipwith Radomski and uncovered three checks from Lo Duca to Radomski for 3,200each. Radomski said in the Mitchell Report that the checks were payments forhuman growth hormone.USATODAY obtained a copy of one of the checks, which revealed that Lo Duca andSamuel W. LevinsonCO ACES Inc. were listed as joint account holders. Theaddress listed on the check matched the address of the Levinsons Brooklyn office.Seth Levinson told USA TODAY he had no relationshipwith Radomski and declined to comment on ACES Inc.s name appearing on thecheck sent to Radomski.Radomski pled guilt to money laundering and distribution ofsteroids on April 27, 2007. According to Nightengales sources, Lo Duca said henever met Radomski in person but talked to him on the phone to get advice onusing the performance-enhancing drugs responsibly.MLB wants to question Radomski on his relationshipwith the Levinsons and whether he was a paid consultant of their firm.
TOKYO -- Japanese pitcher Shohei Otani says he could move to the major leagues after the 2017 season.
The 22-year-old right-hander, who has also put up big numbers at the plate, signed a $2.37 million contract for next season with the Nippon Ham Fighters on Monday.
Otani will not become eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season and will need the Fighters' approval to negotiate with a major league club through the posting system before that time.
He says "we discussed the possibility of me going. ... The club will respect my wishes whenever I decide I want to go."
Otani went 10-4 as a pitcher and batted .322 with a career-high 22 home runs this season for the Fighters.
New rules in MLB's collective bargaining agreement make it more difficult for players like Otani to get paid big bucks right away. But there is a definite curiosity about his abilities, even from those who haven't seen him play much.
"I don't know which side you're worried about more: his ability to pitch or hit," former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "Hopefully he stays healthy because he's an addition whatever league he winds up with, whether he stays in Japan or comes to the U.S. he's certainly going to be an exciting player for people to look forward to watching."
Boston Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was reluctant to talk about Otani because he's under contract in Japan. But he's intrigued about Otani's ability to pitch and hit.
"We have reports on him," Dombrowski said. "Do I think a player could be a two-way player? Yeah, it could happen. It is very difficult? Yes. But I'm not saying that there's not a player out there that can't do that because some of them are rare, rare guys. Babe Ruth could do it. He was pretty good. So it can be done."
The Giants added a huge piece to their bullpen Monday by signing closer Mark Melancon to a four-year deal. While much of the bullpen is complete, San Francisco's front office is reportedly keeping an open mind with a familiar reliever.
San Francisco has reportedly asked about lefty reliever J.P. Howell, according to ESPN's Buster Olney. Howell, who turns 34 in April, spent the last four seasons as a Giants rival with the Dodgers.
Last season coming out of the Dodgers' bullpen, Howell tossed 50.2 innings pitched and ended with a 1-1 record and 4.09 ERA. The year before, Howell posted a career-low 1.43 ERA.
In just 13 appearances out of the bullpen -- 10.2 innings pitched -- Howell has struggled in his career at AT&T Park. The lefty has a 6.75 ERA in San Francisco, to go along with an 0-1 record.
As a whole, the Giants' bullpen finished the 2016 regular season with a 25-24 record. The group's 3.65 ERA ranked ninth in the National League.
Howell is seeking a one-year deal, according to Olney.