Major League Baseball announced an 80-game suspension for Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star outfielder Starling Marte, effective immediately. Marte tested positive for Nandrolone, a performance-enhancing substance.
Entering play on Tuesday, the Pirates are 6-7 and 1.5 games back of the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Central standings. Marte batted .241/.288/.370 with one double, two home runs and seven RBI, while starting in each of the Pirates 13 games.
He was permanently moved to center field this season, which slid Andrew McCutchen to right field. Not only will Marte’s absence put a significant dent in the Pirates’ quest to reach the playoffs, but the PED suspension makes him ineligible for the postseason.
The 28-year-old represented the Dominican Republic during the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Marte hit .250/.250/.583 with one double, one home run and one RBI over three WBC games. The Dominican Republic was eliminated by Team USA at Petco Park.
Marte signed to a six-year, $31 million contract extension in 2014. The Pirates hold club options for 2020 and 2021, totaling a combined $24 million. Both option years include a $2 million buyout.
Marte hit .311/.362/.456 with 34 doubles, nine home runs and 46 RBI in 129 games last season to earn All-Star honors for the first time in his career. The Los Angeles Dodgers’ first look at the Pirates this season comes Monday, May 8, when the teams open a three-game set at Dodger Stadium, during which time Marte will still be serving the suspension.
He’s eligible to return July 18, and presumably will be in the lineup when the Dodgers visit PNC Park from Aug. 21-24.
Marte joins Miami Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon and former New York Mets closer Jenrry Mejia are notable players to be suspended in recent seasons under MLB’s policy. For Mejia, it was his third positive test.
MLB suspends players 80 games for a first PED offense, 162 games for a second positive test, and impose a lifetime ban for a third offense.