The Pirates swept the Cubs this past weekend at Wrigley Field, and they did it without Jung-Ho Kang, who is currently in South Korea dealing with DUI-related issues. If the Pirates hope to do it again the next time the teams meet, they’ll also have to do it without their center fielder.
Today, MLB announced that it has suspended Starling Marte for 80 games after testing positive for a banned substance (a steroid, to be specific) under MLB’s drug policy. The suspension is to begin immediately, comes without pay, and would mean Marte is ineligible for the postseason if the Pirates qualify.
There will be additional fallout here to dissect, but the immediately implications are obviously significant for the Pirates, who have received a whopping 16.7 WAR from Marte over the past four seasons, and figured to potentially be the Cubs’ biggest competition in the NL Central.
They could look to top outfield prospect Austin Meadows to fill the gap, and there might not even be that much fall-off in performance, but it creates depth issues, potential development issues, service time issues, and a host of other troubles I’m sure the Pirates were not anticipating.
Here’s a statement from the Pirates’ president:
Statement from Pirates President Frank Coonelly. pic.twitter.com/c6APCxtrcb
— Pirates (@Pirates) April 18, 2017
And a statement from Marte, himself: