Union should listen to players' wishes on PED penalties

Will stiffer PED penalties be part of the labor negotiations between Rob Manfred and Tony Clark? AP Photo

The number of players who have tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs has spiked this year, although it’s unclear whether that’s due to a growth in the volume of players using or because of improvements in drug testing. Each suspension has been followed by a chorus of veteran players calling for an enhancement in the penalties of the PED policy -- from Justin Verlander, to Rick Porcello, to Jeff Francoeur, who estimated on the podcast recently that 90 percent of the players support tougher penalties.

So it was interesting that in commissioner Rob Manfred’s appearance on Mike & Mike on Thursday morning -- during which he addressed a number of issues, including possible changes in rules regarding reliever use, the All-Star Game and the Home Run Derby -- he said that to date, the players’ association "has not taken that position at the table."

It may well be that the union is holding that chip in its pocket as it plays the leverage game in negotiations. The current agreement doesn't expire until Dec. 1, so there is plenty of time for more give and take. It may be that eventually the union will, in fact, ask for tougher penalties.

To not do so would be a serious mistake, and would repeat a failure of the union leadership from two decades ago.