The other day, Ryan mentioned that Fausto Carmona/Roberto Hernandez may be in line for a stiff punishment, based on MLB’s response to Leo Nunez/Juan Carlos Oviedo of the Miami Marlins. Nunez/Oviedo is now back in the United States and is facing a six week suspension. Carmona/Hernandez has yet to return to the U.S., but he’s supposedly working with the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security in order to obtain a visa.
Paul Hoynes has a good article in the Plain Dealer that explains why the Indians and Carmona/Hernandez may have agreed to a salary reduction. Even though he was supposed to make $7 million this year after the Indians picked up his option, Carmona/Hernandez will now make a $2.5 million base salary plus incentives in 2012. His $9 million team option for 2013 was reduced to $6 million. It’s clear that the Indians and Carmona/Hernandez hope to show that he’s already paid for his sins financially, and should not receive additional punishment in the form of a suspension. Nunez/Oviedo did not renegotiate his salary, but his six-week suspension will supposedly cost him $1.5 million out of his $6 million salary. It took Nunez/Oviedo nearly six months to return to the United States after he was caught with a fake identity at the end of September. Carmona/Hernandez was initially arrested January 19 in the Dominican Republic; if he ends up on the same basic timeline that would put him back in the United States in mid-June. Until that point in time he’s on the restricted list, and receives no salary. (Nor does he take a roster spot.)
Even though Carmona/Hernandez is supposedly pitching in simulated games in the Dominican Republic, there’s no way of knowing if he’d be ready to play immediately upon his return to the United States even if he avoids suspension. If all five starters were healthy and successful upon a Carmona/Hernandez return, who knows what could happen to the rotation. While that would be a nice problem to have, it’s more likely that either Carmona/Hernandez isn’t fully ready to pitch, or that one of the other starters are struggling or out with an injury.
As it was discussed in the comments on Ryan’s post – MLB may want to send a message to young Latin players with harsh punishments toward Nunez/Oviedo and Carmona/Hernandez, hoping to prevent others from the temptation of a false identity. With two relatively high-profile players, MLB obviously wants their punishment to set an example for others. The outcome of these two cases will certainly set a precedent; if Carmona/Hernandez is able to avoid a lengthy suspension, it would show that willingness to take a hit financially may be an alternative to a suspension.