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Jhonny Peralta deal could be tipping point to steeper PED penalties

By Matt Snyder | Baseball Writer

Over the weekend, free agent shortstop Jhonny Peralta signed a four-year, $52 million deal with the Cardinals -- this coming immediately following a season where Peralta lost 50 games due to a PED-related suspension.

Some players were none too pleased about it, either.

Perhaps of greater importance was the reaction of Diamondbacks reliever Brad Ziegler. Why? Because he's the Arizona player representative in the MLBPA (note in particular his second and third tweet here):

After the Biogenesis scandal broke this past summer, several players said they wanted a one-year ban for first offense, if not a lifetime ban -- Skip Schumaker comes to mind as someone who was outspoken on the matter.

Under the current joint drug agreement, players get a 50-game suspension for their first violation, 100 games for the second and a lifetime suspension for a third. After seeing Peralta's contract -- and likely that given to slugger Nelson Cruz this coming offseason -- Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports players are likely to push for harsher penalties:

Other ideas also are in play, including a two-tiered penalty system that distinguishes between players who intentionally cheat and players who do not. The burden of proof in such a program would be on the player, who would need to demonstrate that his misstep was inadvertent.

Financial disincentives also could be instituted for PED users and the teams that employ them. A player could have his free agency delayed for a year. A team might be required to make a significant additional payment -- perhaps through a donation to PED education -- if it signs a past, confirmed user.

As one player recently told me, “We've just got to figure out what actually makes sense. What we don't want to do is rush into something, make a rash decision based on emotion and have it end up down the road causing major problems.

“It's all stuff that has to be evaluated and looked at from both sides. It's not all about money. We're role models. We need to act it.”

Not all players, though, share the same sense of social responsibility. Better to look at this, instead, in the simplest possible terms.

A system is in place. The system isn't working. The system needs to be changed.

The current MLB collective bargaining agreement is signed through Dec. 1, 2016, so any change will most likely have to wait until then.

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