While it seems like a regular occurrence in the Blue Jays’ system that a player gets suspended, it’s actually quite rare. Considering that there are over 250 players in the system at any given time, the fact that the Blue Jays have had just four suspensions in the past three years is not bad. The suspension of Andrew Case, a New Brunswick-born right-handed pitcher, is probably the first time the Blue Jays have had a player suspended for NOT taking a drug test.
It was reported yesterday that Case was suspended for 50 games after a “refusal to take drug test” (according to Baseball America’s interpretation). The wording that was reported on MiLB was that he was suspended for “failing to take a drug test.” Baseball Essential’s Clayton Richer got to the bottom of things by actually contacting Andrew Case, who reported that he failed to let Drug Free Sport know of his whereabouts over the offseason. Because he didn’t let them know, he was unable to afford a last-minute plane ticket to Toronto in order to be tested and while he tried to arrange for a test in Alberta, Case was informed that it was too late.
Case, 23, split last season between the Lansing Lugnuts (with a 3.32 ERA and 1.43 WHIP) and the Vancouver Canadians (with a 2.93 ERA and 1.21 WHIP), throwing 52 1/3 innings overall in his second professional season. He had signed after an outstanding performance at the annual T-12 Tournament that the Blue Jays hold for collegiate players across Canada. Because suspended players are frozen to the last roster they were on, Case is going to miss almost the entire season. Case was a member of the Vancouver Canadians at the end of last year, and as a short-season team, the Canadians only play 76 games beginning in mid-June. Case can’t be moved to the Lansing Lugnuts’ roster, sit out 50 games and return in late-May.
This is truly an unfortunate development for Case’s season. As a 23-year-old non-drafted free agent, Case understands the impact that his suspension will have, telling Richer, “I have to be more mature of the situation and be sure to let Drug Free know. But I’ll serve it [the suspension] and come back ready more then ever to play and help my team win.”
It appears that this suspension can’t and won’t be appealed (as I’ve never heard of an appeal for a drug suspension in the minor leagues, and only Ryan Braun has ever won an appeal against MLB). We hope to see Andrew Case in August as he gets ready for a difficult season spent mostly on the sidelines.
Alexis Brudnicki reported that the Blue Jays were able to promote Case to Lansing so that he won’t have to wait until August to return.
— Alexis Brudnicki (@baseballexis) March 1, 2016
Apparently, the Blue Jays invoked an exception in Rule 8.J.1. of the Drug Policy agreement:
A Player shall be placed on the Restricted List during the term of any suspension imposed under this Section 8. A Player suspended for a violation of the Program must serve the full suspension with the same Minor League Club for which he was playing at the time the suspension was announced or, in the case of an off-season suspension, the Minor League Club for which he was playing at the end of the prior season. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if a Player’s suspension extends beyond the conclusion of the Minor League season in which it was announced (or was announced during the off-season), the Club may transfer the Player during the off-season or Spring Training to the roster of another Minor League Club provided such transfer is for legitimate baseball developmental purposes and is justified by the Player’s performance. A Club desiring to transfer a Player from one Minor League roster to another during the pendency of his suspension may not do so absent express consent of the Office of the Commissioner. If a Club desires to transfer a Player from a Short-Season League to a Full-Season League during the pendency of the Player’s suspension, the Club must not only submit to the Office of the Commissioner objective baseball evidence to support the transfer, but also must certify that the Club has no present intention of transferring the Player back to a Short-Season roster at any point during the next Minor League championship season. The length of suspension for a Player who is transferred from a Short-Season League to a Full-Season League during the pendency of his suspension shall either remain unchanged or shall increase to the number of games for which the Player would have been suspended had the discipline been imposed while the Player was assigned to the Full-Season League, whichever results in the lengthier suspension. A Player who is assigned from a Short-Season League to a Full-Season League after his suspension has been announced may not be transferred back to a Short-Season League roster during the forthcoming championship season absent approval of the Office of the Commissioner, which will be granted only in extraordinary circumstances.
What does all this legalistic mumbo-jumbo mean (I’ve highlighted the relevant sections for you)? It means that, because the Blue Jays probably could argue that Case could and should be placed with the Lansing Lugnuts for developmental purposes, they were allowed to do so, providing that they do not send him back to Vancouver at any point this year. Thanks to Minor Leaguer at Bluebird Banter for the heads up.
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The 2016 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is coming this spring! Stay tuned for more information coming!
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