MLB drug policy needs harsher punishment

Dee Gordon of the Miami Marlins was hit with an 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs on April 28. It is now the second drug violation suspension, and we just got through the first month of baseball. The other was Chris Colabello, first baseman of the Toronto Blue Jays. Prior to Colabello’s breakout 2015 campaign, he was an unknown player and a career .214 hitter for the Minnesota Twins. He was claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays and then he has a career high year hitting .321 with 15 homers.

That’s surprising, especially since he wasn’t picked in any baseball drafts. He actually signed as an amateur free agent by the Minnesota Twins. So his suspension in mid-April doesn’t come as a huge surprise.

Gordon on the other hand, is the reigning National League batting champion, leading the league with a .333 average in 2015. Not only that, he also won a Silver Slugger award and a Gold Glove at second base, was an All Star, and lead baseball with 58 stolen bases that year. Comparing Gordon to Colabello is a far cry. Gordon actually had his breakout year in 2014, when he played for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He made his first All Star appearance and led all of baseball with 64 stolen bases and 12 triples.

It is safe to say that many were surprised when Gordon was tagged with the suspension because most players who use PEDs are home run hitters. Gordon only has 8 home runs in his entire Major League career. But that is not the biggest question, though. The question is: why did he do it? Many consider Gordon a humble person. He’s known for his outgoing personality with his teammates and his fans. So why would he want to taint his reputation using performance-enhancing drugs? Well, the Miami Marlins offered him a five-year 50 million-contract extension after his first huge year with them, and he gladly accepted it. With the suspension, Gordon will be docked $1.65 million in salary. That means he will still be guaranteed the remaining $48.35 million. So while his reputation is most likely destroyed, he will still be a millionaire anyways.

The Marlins are stuck between a rock and a hard place here. Will Gordon still be a productive hitter when he returns July 29? If he isn’t, will they have no choice but to eat his contract by benching him for someone else? Or the most unlikely situation, can they find a team who would like to trade for him that and are willing to take his contract? Major League Baseball did change the rules of suspension by making first offenses 80 games, a second offense a full season of 162 game, and a third offense a permanent ban from the game. The problem is that players still get paid their contracts after first or second offense violations. Even though a portion of their contracts gets taken out, they still get paid once they return. That is the issue with Gordon’s suspension; he will still have nearly 50 million guaranteed after his suspension in the next five years.

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred needs to think about this. If a player is using performance-enhancing drugs, shouldn’t they get their current contracts terminated, and sign a new contract worth less money? Yes, a suspension is great and all, but it seems like they are punishing the organization more than they are punishing the player that gets suspended.

Gordon is now going to be seen as an untruthful person. He made his teammates and organization look bad, especially the Marlins hitting coach Barry Bonds, who has been surrounded by PED allegations for many years. But that’s okay, because he is still going to make millions of dollars, right?