Sources: Gio not linked to PEDs
According to a recent story by ESPN, the report that linked Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez to a Miami Biogenesis clinic does not tie him to any substances banned by MLB.
The story does, however, reveal some potentially troubling information: despite his insistence throughout this whole scandal that he has never visited the clinic, the sources quoted in the story show evidence that Gio did receive $1,000 worth of substances from the clinic, none of them banned by MLB. Previously, both Gio and his father Max had stated that Max was the only member of the Gonzalez family to receive treatment from the implicated Tony Bosch.
Despite the discovery of potentially false testimony by the lefty, the Nationals’ Opening Day rotation still figures to feature Gio, likely as the #2 starter behind Stephen Strasburg. Gio was a huge part of the Nationals’ success in 2012, finishing third in the NL Cy Young voting, and achieving team-bests in wins (21), ERA (2.89), WHIP (1.129), and innings pitched (199.1), along with several other stats. The Nats raided their farm system last offseason to acquire Gonzalez, sending four highly-regarded prospects to Oakland for the then-26-year-old, and then signed the starter to a 5-year, $42 million deal.
Had Gio been the only one linked to this clinic, we might be looking at a different situation here. However, the fact that Gio is the first of the original five players (which included former MVPs Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, both of whom have been linked to PEDs in the past) to be cleared, paired with the fact that ESPN listed six additional players linked to the clinic in their story (including the Padres’ highly-regarded speedster shortstop Everth Cabrera), leads to the reasonable assumption that investigating Gonzalez’s involvement in the situation will be relatively low on MLB’s totem pole. The league will (and should) still conduct a full investigation, however Gonzalez is very unlikely to even be considered for the mandatory 50-game suspension for players found guilty of using PEDs if this story is true. On the other hand, the injured A-Rod, who may not even be healthy enough to play for the Yankees until at least midseason, finds his 19-year career in jeopardy. The 3-time MVP has an impressive resume, signing the two most lucrative contracts in baseball history, and hitting 647 home runs with a 162-game average of 42, but this is the third time he’s been publicly linked to PEDs. Rodriguez is far from a fan favorite in New York, and the Yankees may look to void the rest of the 10-year, $275 million deal he signed that, if maintained, would keep him starting at third base in the Bronx through 2017—or make him the most expensive bench player in history.
Various reports already show Gio having a strong Spring Training, and all Nats fans can do at this point is hope that this offseason scandal does not distract him from winning 20 games again in 2013.