Well, it's not a complete resolution -- but for the time being, it'll have to do.
MLB is finally handing down discipline for the players implicated in the Biogenesis PED scandal not named Ryan Braun, and we've known the general outline of punishment for a while now: a 50-game suspension under the joint drug agreement (JDA) for every player facing discipline with the exception of Alex Rodriguez, who will be facing a 211-game suspension through at least the end of the 2014 season. Rodriguez, who just finished a rehab assignment in Trenton with the Yankees' Double-A affiliate, is reportedly going to appeal the decision.
A whole lot of rumors have been flying recently regarding Rodriguez and his punishment. Over the couple weeks we've seen leaks ranging from Bud Selig planning to ban the Yankees third baseman for life if he didn't accept his suspension without appeal, to allegations that Rodriguez deserved to be banned under the CBA instead of the JDA due to unspecified "witness coercion." There have also been even more iterations of the ludicrous "Rodriguez should go to the 60-day DL forever and let the Yankees collect the insurance money" canard that's been showing up in the New York media for almost six months now, even though Rodriguez has been very consistent about his desire to get back on the field at the major league level and has just concluded an effective rehab stint in the minors (6-for-21 with 3 homers between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton).
But enough about Rodriguez; there will be more than enough opportunities to discuss his case when we know more about the evidence arrayed against him and the appeals process starts. There are a dozen other players being hit with suspensions coming out of this mess, a good number of them on teams in the hunt for the playoffs. That was the big argument for sitting on this until after the season and handing down discipline in December to be served at the beginning of 2014: avoiding upsetting the quality of the on-field product and directly impacting the outcome of the season. Holding discipline until next year would have made it much more difficult for the suspended players entering free agency to get big-money contracts, but as much as I dislike how these drug suspensions have turned into a narrative/media event instead of an instance of an employer disciplining its employees, I have no sympathy for players correctly found in violation of the JDA losing money because of it. That's the whole point of the discipline.
That said, it's the teams that will be suffering most this time around. Per multiple reports, including those of Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports and Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, there are 12 players -- both major and minor leaguers -- besides Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez who will reportedly receive discipline. They will each receive one 50-game suspension for a first time offense under the JDA, and all of them will accept the ruling and begin serving their suspensions immediately. Here's the rundown on all 12, with particular focus on players on major league rosters:
Jhonny Peralta, Detroit Tigers: This might be the biggest one, as Peralta is the starting shortstop for the AL Central-leading Tigers, who are trying to hold on to a small lead over the Cleveland Indians and fend off the recently surging Kansas City Royals. Peralta has the third-best OPS of any shortstop in baseball this year (behind Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki) and has actually been approaching decent in the field this year. Since he is in the final season of his contract with Detroit, it's possible that once the suspension comes down Peralta will have played his final game as a Tiger.
Detroit scrambled to acquire a replacement for Peralta at the deadline, effectively trading prospect Avisail Garcia and reliever Brayan Villarreal for Boston shortstop Jose Iglesias. Iglesias started the year ridiculously hot at the plate fueled entirely by seeing-eye singles and infield hits, and has cooled off remarkably. He's a guy who hasn't managed a .600 OPS in almost 1000 plate appearances at the Triple-A level, so it's likely he just cannot hit major league pitching. What he can do, however, is field remarkably well -- he becomes the best fielding shortstop in the AL once he takes over as Detroit's starter -- and considering this is an emergency acquisition to fill a hole that the Tigers didn't know they might have until Spring Training, it's not the worst thing in the world for them.
Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers: The Rangers were not so lucky. They were unable to find a replacement for Cruz at the deadline at any reasonable price, and he is exactly as vital to his team as Peralta is to the Tigers. Cruz is second on the team in OPS (which, in fairness, says as much about how badly the Texas offense has fallen off in the past few months than it does about Cruz) and while he has negative value in the field, had the Rangers been able to actually land, say, Nate Schierholtz of the Chicago Cubs, Cruz would have made for an effective DH with Lance Berkman likely gone for the year. As it is, the Rangers couldn't find anyone with a reasonable price tag and have no appealing internal options to fill the hole in their outfield.
There are still outfielders out there that can be acquired, but they have to pass through waivers, and any outfielder who will do that -- say, Los Angeles' Andre Ethier -- is going to have significant warts of his own (in Ethier's case, the worst season of his career at the plate, a massive platoon split and a contract that will pay him $86.5 million over the next five years).
Everth Cabrera, San Diego Padres: Cabrera was having a breakout season (hitting .282/.355/.378 is pretty respectable given he's a shortstop in Petco Park), but his involvement in a PED scandal certainly puts a damper on that. More than 10 games back of the Dodgers with only two months to go, the Padres aren't precisely going to call it a season at this point -- especially not to their fans -- but in the grand scheme of things San Diego would probably rather Cabrera serve this suspension now and be ready for next year than defer discipline until 2014, when they hopefully get a full season out of Ian Kennedy and see what they have in pitching prospect Casey Kelly.
Jesus Montero, Seattle Mariners: Leave it to the Mariners to have the guy on this list who apparently took PEDs and got worse at baseball. Montero's had a disastrous season so far -- following his demotion to the minors and planned conversion to first base, a knee injury sidelined him for 4-6 weeks, and now if at any point the Mariners want to bring him up they'll have to sit him for 50 games first. The good news is that they'll likely be able to knock off a couple of games off the suspension this September by promoting him to the majors once rosters expand and the minor league season ends, but that's still only 20-25 games at most. Montero is, at this point, becoming more trouble for the Mariners than he's worth.
Francisco Cervelli, New York Yankees: Cervelli was off to an amazing start at the beginning of this year before fracturing his hand and vanishing to the 60-day disabled list. On August 3, as Cervelli was rehabbing in preparation to return to the Yankees, he suffered a stress reaction in his elbow that set him back further. Now this. The Yankees would love to have him back as the battery of Chris Stewart and Austin Romine has been unimpressive at best, and New York is at least pretending that the playoffs are still in the cards, but unlike his teammate Rodriguez, Cervelli will accept discipline along with every other recipient of a 50 game suspension.
Jordany Valdespin, New York Mets: As if Jordany Valdespin wasn't already in enough trouble with the Mets' front office, now this happens. Valdespin has constantly been at odds with both the Mets' locker room and with manager Terry Collins, their relationship souring perhaps irreversibly when, upon learning he had been demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas, Valdespin reportedly launched into a profanity-laden tirade and demanded a fake DL stint. He was already unlikely to see more time in Mets uniform, but this new piece of bad behavior makes him hard to see even as a complementary chip in an offseason trade.
Antonio Bastardo, Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies have convincingly played themselves out of the playoff race since the All-Star break, making it a no-brainer for Bastardo to serve his suspension immediately instead of trying to appeal. Were the Phillies in the race, this would be something that Bastardo and the Phillies would have to give serious consideration -- due to injury and general ineffectiveness, there aren't enough quality options in the Philadelphia pen right now. A Phillies team that was competing couldn't really afford to lose him.
Cesar Puello, Jordan Norberto, Fautino de los Santos, Fernando Martinez, Sergio Escalona: Of the minor leaguers being disciplined, only Mets prospect Cesar Puello looks to be one day important at the major league level. Martinez is 25 years old and hitting poorly for the Yankees in Triple-A, de los Santos was released by the Padres near the beginning of the season and Norberto was released by Oakland after getting hurt and requiring Tommy John surgery. Escalona hasn't been on a 40-man roster since 2011 and has pitched only 15 woefully ineffective innings this year. For everyone on this list not named Puello, it is highly likely these suspensions will never be served, and that their careers at the major league level are all but over.