Pirates outfielder Starling Marte has been suspended 80 games for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy, according to a league announcement. Marte tested positive for Nandrolone and his suspension is effective immediately.
The news is a devastating blow for the Pirates, who were hoping to ride a star outfield of Marte, Gregory Polanco and Andrew McCutchen to their fourth playoff appearance in five seasons. If the club does make the postseason, Marte will be ineligible as a result of today’s news.
Marte, 28, was off to a .241/.288/.370 start with two homers in 13 games for the Bucs this season after taking over in center in place of McCutchen, who shifted to right field. Though it will be hard to replace his production, the Pirates will attempt to fill the gap with a combination of Adam Frazier, John Jaso, new callup Jose Osuna and/or utility players Josh Harrison and Josh Bell, who are versatile. The long-term solution for the Bucs may be to promote top prospect Austin Meadows from Triple-A, though Meadows is off to a slow start this season.
Marte is one of the most notable players to be suspended under MLB’s latest policy, joining Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon, Twins pitcher Ervin Santana and ex-Mets closer Jenrry Mejia, who is now banned for life after three positive tests. Marte was an All-Star in 2016 with Pittsburgh en route to a season in which he hit .311/.362/.456 with nine homers in 129 games. He will be eligible to return on July 18, four days after the All-Star break.
Marte issued a statement via FOX’s Ken Rosenthal:
Marte is a veteran of six seasons with the Pirates, owning a career .288/.344/.446 line and 21.5-WAR in that span. He is in the third season of a six-year, $31 million extension with the club that includes two options that keeps him under team control through the 2021 campaign.