The A’s on Friday lost one of their top players for the remainder of the 2021 season. MLB announced outfielder Ramon Laureano has been suspended for 80 games following a positive test for a banned substance.
Laureano said in a statement that he didn’t knowingly ingest the substance and added that he doesn’t “need any of that to perform on the baseball field.”
Oakland will not have Laureano back on the field until April 2022 at the earliest.
SN looks at the reason for Laureano’s suspension and what’s next for him and the A’s:
Why was Ramon Laureano suspended?
Laureano was suspended for testing positive for nandrolone, an anabolic steroid. MLB’s statement did not include the amount detected or when Laureano was tested.
He will miss the remainder of the 2021 regular season (53 games), any potential Oakland playoff games this year and the first 27 games of the 2022 season, which will begin March 31.
What did Ramon Laureano say about his suspension?
Laureano, through the MLB Players Association, maintained that he did not knowingly ingest nandrolone.
“I take great care of my body and have an extremely regimented diet,” he said. “Based on the miniscule amount that was briefly in my body, I’ve learned that it is likely that it was contamination of something I ingested.
“I have been educated about PEDs through the RBI program and Baseball Factory while growing up. I know I don’t need any of that to perform on the baseball field. All my athletic success has come from hard work, focus and dedication to the game.”
The Associated Press reported that Laureano is the fifth MLB player to be suspended under baseball’s drug prevention program this year. He joins Marlins pitcher Paul Campbell, Rockies infielder Colton Welker, Giants pitcher Daniel Santos and Mariners pitcher Hector Santiago.
What did the A’s say about Ramon Laureano’s suspension?
The club released a brief statement in which it said it was “disappointed” to learn of Laureano’s suspension.
It added that it will “welcome Ramon back after the discipline has been served.”
What’s next for the A’s on the field?
Oakland will move forward without its everyday right fielder. Laureano moved from center field to right in late July after the A’s acquired center fielder Starling Marte in a trade with the Marlins.
Laureano, 27, posted a .246/.317/.443 slash line with 14 home runs in 88 games for the A’s in 2021. He also contributed 12 stolen bases in 17 attempts and average defense (two defensive runs saved, per Fangraphs).
The A’s employed a right-field platoon of Seth Brown and Stephen Piscotty prior to acquiring Marte. Brown and Piscotty have been moderately productive hitters, with a combined 17 home runs, 44 RBIs and .394 slugging percentage in 355 at-bats prior to Friday.
Oakland could move utility players Tony Kemp and Josh Harrison into an outfield role, although Harrison has been the regular second baseman since being acquired from the Nationals at the July 31 deadline. It could also promote Khris Davis or Skye Bolt from the minors (although Brown was called up Friday to replace Laureano on the roster). Another utility player, Chad Pinder (hamstring), is about a week away from coming off the injured list.
Acquiring an outfielder may not benefit the club. With the abolition of the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline, the A’s would need to claim a player off waivers (and pick up that player’s remaining 2021 salary) or trade for a player who is not on a 40-man roster.