A’s outfielder Ramón Laureano has been suspended 80 games Friday due to traces of the performance-enhancing drug nandrolone being found in his system.
Nandrolone is an anabolic steroid that is often used by bodybuilders. The A’s have played 109 games this season, meaning he’ll miss the final 53 games of the regular season, this year’s playoffs and 27 games to begin 2022.
It’s an absolutely brutal blow for Oakland, who was just starting to mesh with its new-look team after the trade deadline. Friday afternoon, Laureano issued the following statement through the MLB Players Association.
The Major League Baseball Players Association issued the following statement from Ramón Laureano: pic.twitter.com/j7aLbnceIs
— MLBPA Communications (@MLBPA_News) August 6, 2021
“I would never knowingly ingest any banned substance and put the game that I’ve loved all my life at risk,” the statement reads. “ When I found out I tested positive for nandrolone, I was shocked. I take great care of my body and have an extremely regimented diet. Based on the miniscule amount that was briefly in my body, I’ve learned that it is likely contamination of something I ingested.”
The A’s put out a boilerplate statement upon learning of the suspension, writing, “The A’s were disappointed to learn of this suspension. We fully support MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and we will welcome Ramón back after the discipline has been served.”
Shayna Rubin of the Bay Area News Group shared comments from A’s general manager David Forst on the issue:
David Forst on Laureano: “Ramón was pretty emotional. He was upset and feels like he let people down. We all know he wears his heart on his sleeve, most of what’s come from him has been emotion.”
— Shayna Rubin (@ShaynaRubin) August 6, 2021
Welp, this isn’t great for the team’s playoff chances, but I don’t think it kills them.
The A’s are expected to bring Seth Brown back up from Triple-A, but there’s going to be a major void left by Laureano in the field and the lineup. Though he has been inconsistent this year, Laureano remains one of the league’s most electric players when he’s producing.
With the addition of Starling Marte, the A’s had an above-average defensive outfield with Mark Canha in left, Marte in center and Laureano in right. Now Brown and Stephen Piscotty will likely move back into a platoon role in right field.
It’s incredibly disappointing for the A’s and Laureano to lose him in such a fashion down the stretch. We’ll never know how good this 2021 team could have truly been. We only saw a three-game glimpse this past week of Oakland at its full capabilities, the final game of the Los Angeles Angels series and the two-game set against the San Diego Padres. For what it’s worth, the A’s went 2-1 in those games.
The A’s (61-48) enter play Friday with a 1.5 game lead over the New York Yankees for the final Wild Card spot in the American League. While losing Laureano is a massive blow, I still think Oakland is a playoff-caliber squad with Piscotty/Brown platooning in right field. The acquisition of Marte is looking like a saving grace, as the A’s don’t have much — if any — depth at center field.
Laureano started the campaign with so much promise, but will finish 2021 with the following numbers: .246/.317/.443 slash line with 14 homers, 39 RBIs and 12 steals.
One more wrinkle to consider: perhaps the A’s will need some more right-handed hitting depth in September and they just re-signed … Khris Davis. Can Khrush add some pop to the September lineups when rosters expand to 28?
Like Matt Chapman’s injury last year, this devastating suspension will probably leave A’s fans wondering ‘What if?’ for the rest of the year.