Top officials from Major League Baseball and the Players Association were tight-lipped on a couple of issues involving Phillies players in a meeting with reporters before Tuesday night's All-Star Game.
Commissioner Rob Manfred would not comment on MLB’s investigation of the charges of PED use that were levied against Ryan Howard by the Al Jazeera network in December. Howard has vehemently denied the charges both in word and action — he has sued the network for defamation.
While Manfred would not comment, Dan Halem, MLB’s top legal official, offered that, “The investigation is ongoing, we are close to completing it.”
MLB’s investigation does not signal any wrongdoing by Howard. The investigations department routinely looks into any allegation made against a player. Depending on what the investigations department learns, Howard could be disciplined or the investigation could be dropped and become a non-matter.
Howard is in the final guaranteed year of his contract with the Phillies and will move on at season’s end.
In other matters Tuesday, union head Tony Clark would not comment specifically on Maikel Franco’s grievance over service time. Clark would not even confirm or deny the grievance’s existence, but sources have confirmed it was filed last year after the Phillies kept Franco in the minor leagues for the first six weeks of the 2015 season, a move that pushed his potential free agency back until after the 2021 season.
Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant reportedly filed a similar grievance.
The issue of manipulating service time is expected to be addressed in negotiations as MLB and the union hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement. The current agreement expires December 1.
“As part of collective bargaining, having a system in place that affords everyone the rationale and reasoning to put the best players on the field at all times seems to have value,” Clark said. “It’s not a new issue and there is a lot of value in it not being an issue anymore, at least less of one.”