The largest federal criminal investigation into sports doping began more than nine years ago with a tax agent digging through the trash of the now notorious Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative. Barring an appeal, the government’s work will come to an anti-climactic end Friday when Barry Bonds – the probe’s highest-profile catch – is sentenced for obstruction of justice.
More than seven years after he testified before a grand jury investigating BALCO, Major League Baseball’s all-time home runs leader was convicted on just one of four remaining counts against him. The jury deadlocked on whether Bonds lied about taking performance enhancing drugs.
Federal sentencing guidelines suggest a prison term of between 15 and 21 months, but federal probation officers are recommending Bonds receive no time, citing his charitable work, the nature of the crime and his otherwise spotless criminal record. U.S. District Judge Susan Illston has sentenced two other BALCO figures convicted of similar crimes to probation and house arrest.
ANGELS: C.J. Wilson will earn $10 million in 2012 as he starts his $77.5 million, five-year contract with Los Angeles.
The left-hander’s salary will rise to $11 million in 2013, $16 million in 2014, $18 million in 2015 and $20 million in 2016.
CARDINALS: Finalized a two-year, $14 million free agent deal with shortstop Rafael Furcal after the 34-year-old passed his physical. He will get salaries of $6 million next year and $7 million in 2013, along with a $1 million signing bonus.
BREWERS: Finalized a $36 million, three-year contract with free agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez, adding a much-needed big bat to their lineup while the team awaits word on reigning NL MVP Ryan Braun, who could miss the first 50 games of the season if he loses his appeal for testing positive for a banned substance.
GIANTS: Were working to finalize a $1 million, one-year contract with free agent reliever Guillermo Mota to bring him back for a third season.
Mota went 2-2 with a 3.81 ERA last season.
RED SOX: Acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Houston Astros for infielder Jed Lowrie and right-hander Kyle Weiland.
The deal brings the Red Sox a potential replacement for closer Jonathan Papelbon, who signed as a free agent with the Phillies.
Melancon is a 26-year-old righty who had 20 saves last season with an 8-4 record and 2.78 ERA in 71 relief outings Lowrie, 27, played all four infield positions for Boston last year and hit .252 with six homers and 36 RBI. Weiland, 25, was 0-3 with a 7.66 ERA in seven games for Boston.
DIAMONDBACKS: The team reached agreements on a one-year, $1.75 million contract with 41-year-old right-hander Takashi Saito and a $490,000, one-year contract right-hander Jonathan Albaladejo.
WAITING GAME: The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, of Japan’s Pacific League, have until Tuesday to accept a bid from a major league team for pitcher Yu Darvish.
Bidding for the posting fee closed Wednesday, and the U.S. commissioner’s office said it will notify its Japanese counterpart of the amount of the highest bid.
The Ham Fighters have until 5 p.m. Tuesday to accept. If the bid is accepted, the winning club will have 30 days to agree to a contract.
Darvish is considered the best pitcher in the Japanese professional leagues. He was 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA and a league-leading 276 strikeouts last season.