The Cincinnati Reds have announced that they’ve sent infielder Noelvi Marte on a rehab assignment to Triple-A Louisillve. Marte, who is still serving an 80-game suspension after testing positive for Boldenone during spring training, is allowed to have a “rehab” assignment during his suspension.

Louisville is at home this week, playing the St. Paul Saints. So if you’re in the area you can go see him play. Marte is allowed to spend up to 20 days on a rehab assignment as a position player, but that won’t apply here. Marte is eligible to return on June 27th as long as there are no postponements between now and then that also aren’t made up between now and then. On the day his suspension is up the team will have to activate him and make some decisions.

When the time comes to make a decision on what to do with Marte, the Reds are going to have to decide between plenty of options. First and foremost the club has to make a 40-man roster move when he’s eligible. Right now he does not count towards the club’s 40-man roster but he will once his 80-game suspension is up.

That was the easy decision for Marte – the team isn’t going to release him. But the flip side of that transaction is one that they probably have had some thoughts about but don’t need to know the answer just yet. It’s possible that multiple things could come into play before they have to make that move that could ultimately make the decision for them (injury, trade, etc).

But perhaps the bigger decision will be whether or not the team chooses to bring him up to the big league club or to option him to Triple-A once he is eligible. Some of that may depend on just how well/poorly he looks while on his rehab assignment.

It’s likely that he will be brought to the big leagues. Right now the Reds don’t really have a backup shortstop and Elly De La Cruz has played in every single game this year. Marte, while not exactly the best defensive shortstop around, can fill in often enough to give De La Cruz a day off. But beyond that, Marte’s probably an improvement to the lineup and can fit in at a few spots.

Last season after he was called up to the big leagues he played in 35 games. In his 123 plate appearances he hit .316/.366/.456 with seven doubles, three home runs, six steals, eight walks, and had 25 strikeouts. When the season ended he had a 16-game hitting streak going (25-for-62 in that stretch).

On Monday afternoon Marte met with the media in Cincinnati and Louisville. He said that he is not sure how Boldenone got into his system. While a quick google search will tell you that boldenone is an injectable steroid used for veterinarian purposes – and that is true – it’s not only injectable. USADA has a page all about the drug and notes that it has been found within dietary and nutritional supplements.

“When I go back to the Dominican it’s just really make sure I’m aware of how all of my diet is, and having all of the right people behind me and that I trust those people as well as much as possible. Just make sure that I know everything that’s going on with my health and all of those processes,” Marte said through translator Jorge Merlos.

“Just looking at my diet, looking at how my health works. I live in a country that doesn’t have the same health system that you see normally here in the States. I just need to make sure, look over everything that’s going on to make sure that my process is well enough that these results won’t come back again.”

It’s rare that tainted supplements in the US lead to failed PED tests. But it’s not unheard of, either. Former NFL Player David Vobora won a $5.4M lawsuit against a company over contaminated supplements that led to his suspension just over a decade ago. Five years ago four UFC fighters all tested positive for ostarine. After investigation it was determined that they were all taking the same supplement and that it was contaminated with the drug, which was not listed as an ingredient. And perhaps the most famous one in recent memory is when future boxing Hall of Famer Canelo Alvarez tested positive for clenbuterol after eating contaminated meat.

It’s rare that someone will test positive for something and actually say “yeah, I did it”. Most of the time the athletes will claim that they have no idea how the drug got into their system. And sometimes that could be true. In the US the stuff sold in stores is supposed to be labeled with all ingredients and be “clean”. Sometimes that isn’t the case. But once you get outside of the US, there aren’t always agencies in charge of keeping companies on the up-and-up when it comes to what’s in their supplements.

At the end of the day, that still falls on the athletes. You have to know what you are putting into your body. Noelvi Marte paid the price for failing his test. The suspension cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars. And it cost him 80 games of service time, which could eventually delay his pay day down the road, too.

Starting tonight, he can try to put all of that behind him and get on the field with Louisville after spending his time after his suspension was announced participating with rookie-level players in practices/unofficial games in Goodyear at the Reds complex and in the Dominican Republic at the Reds complex.

41 Responses

  1. SultanofSwaff

    Espinal seems the clear choice to head out when Marte is ready. Still, it was a shrewd move to pick him up as he’s been roughly replacement level which is all you can really ask. Swap out his 57 OPS+ for whatever north of that Marte should easily be and it’s the equivalent of a nice trade acquisition.

    Reply
    • VaRedsFan

      I would guess it’s JHurt, or Dunn (maybe even Benson) that are in line for demotion when CES and Marte come back. They are outfielders #6 and 7 on the team.

      Reply
      • Optimist

        Yep – one of the two OFers, which is fine – they were both called up a bit earlier than desired. This is the year to use up options on them, so both could be back in AAA when CES returns, or if another spot is needed (trade?).

      • wkuchad

        I doubt Dunn at this point. We have so many lefty OF, I’m guessing its Hurtubise or Espinal.

        Benson’s last 2 weeks likely saved him from demotion.

    • Jim Walker

      @Sultan> Per Fangraphs, Espinal is even option eligible which might make his fate even more certain.

      Reply
      • wkuchad

        Luckily, he have a lot more flexibility with our bench versus our bullpen.

      • JB

        Jim- that’s good to know. Don’t want to lose Espinal as he is a decent fielder that can at least come up and cover for 10 days. The way people are getting hurt in the league , you can’t have enough decent players at AAA.

    • MBS

      I’d put money on Dunn going down. Not only was he the last to come up, but he clearly isn’t ready. His AAA didn’t support a promotion, it was only a desparte move because we didn’t have anyone else.

      Reply
      • DaveCT

        Agreed. Marte or CES” return means Steer goes back to LF and Dunn’s cup of coffee expires.

        When the second of CES or Marte returns, I’d guess the odd man out is an infielder and that, unfortunately, is Espinal, whose defense and timely hits i really appreciate.

        The exception could be the long delayed move of India to the outfield, spelling the option of Hurtubise, Benson, Fraley or Fairchild.

  2. Doc

    I’m wondering how an athlete is supposed to know what he is taking if the ingredient is not listed. Very few MLB players have pharmacy degrees, I would guess, nor access to testing facilities.

    The obvious thing for an athlete, it seems to me, is to acquire his supplement supply before leaving the country, or, safer yet, to do it the old fashioned way, healthy eating.

    Reply
    • wkuchad

      Yes, nothing beats healthy eating, but some supplements help with things that healthy eating can’t always fix (one example, vitamin D deficiency).

      Reply
    • MK

      Come on, these guys make enough money to get professional care on these subjects even at MLB Minimum.

      Reply
      • Optimist

        Doubtful MK, considering he was at a fraction of the MLB minimum, and in the DR when this occurred. Knowing nothing of the characters involved, I lean to accepting Marte’s version of events.

        I lean toward blaming the organization more at this point – they need to protect the MiLB players – once you’re 2-3 years into MLB minimum, then sure, you can afford the personal medical/nutrition/life coaching at least at a basic level. For anyone other than 1st round draft picks, the organization needs to include something beyond advice for those outside the US, on how to deal with supplements/rehab/nutrition.

        Unless a player has been juicing/using/cheating repeatedly, these seem to be avoidable accidents.

      • Doug Gray

        I’m with MK here. Marte made $173,115 last season from the day he was called up through the end of the season. That doesn’t include the money he made in the minor leagues. He made about $40,000 more while in the minor leagues. So we’re talking over $200,000. He absolutely could have (and should have) been getting whatever supplements he needed/wanted shipped in.

    • Doug Gray

      I mean you got it right – only buy things from trusted, reputable sources.

      Reply
      • Optimist

        Fair enough, but that’s hardly the wealth implied for veterans with several years in MLB. One, your always responsible for your own health and accountable for those acting on your behalf, and two, we’ll learn a lot about the accountability for those acting on your behalf with the outcome of the Ohtani situation.

        I’m still inclined to believe Marte (and others similar to him – MiLB level or rookies) who claim surprise and are first time offenders. They have had enough time in the system to know the rules, and not enough time to devote to cheating the system or take the risk.

  3. wkuchad

    When Marte or CES returns, we’ll finally have 9 of our projected starters in the lineup together. When both return, it’ll be nice to start giving some guys a day off but keep a solid lineup.

    Both ‘should’ help our lineups versus lefties, which we desperately need.

    Facing back to back righty starters against Cleveland. I like seeing that.

    Reply
    • Jim Walker

      I saw a post on X last night that listed the Reds as having an OPS+ of 118 versus LHP. If the list in the post was accurate that was a top 5 in the NL.

      I knew I should bookmark it but didn’t 😉

      Reply
      • wkuchad

        I seemed like lefty starters have been our kryptonite this year, but I guess this is another good example that you can’t always rely on the “eye test”

  4. Rednat

    i forgot how hot Marte was at the end of last year.
    If he and CES can ramp up quickly we have a good shot to make the playoffs this year.

    Reply
    • wkuchad

      Yep, if you project Marte’s stats over a full year, he would have been our third best hitter. I’d love to see him and CES come back hot.

      Reply
  5. old-school

    Glad to see Marte come back. He’s a big part of the Reds future and could really help this season. Based on prior reports, McLain is 2 weeks away from taking dry swings with the bat. Thats another big crossroads in the 2024 season.

    Reply
  6. RedsGettingBetter

    Considering the hypothesis about Marte will be ready for big league level by the end of June it’s clear he could be an offense improvement on Espinal or even Dunn to compare just right hander hitters. The decision will be if they would rather keep the outfielder or the infielder in the club. It seems to be logical Espinal should be optioned to triple-A. Of course all depends on everybody stays healthy.

    Reply
  7. DaveCT

    Doug, is this a typo?

    “Right now he does now (not?) count towards the club’s 40-man roster but he will once his 80-game suspension is up.

    This means we have to drop someone off the 40-man in addition to optioning/moving someone off the 26-man, correct?

    Reply
    • wkuchad

      It’s correct that Marte is not currently on the 40, and he must be added whether we send him to Cincy or option him to Louisville.

      Reply
      • DaveCT

        Thanks. Thats what I thought.

        Of course, on the Reds MLB page, we have a special allowance of 41 players, as Livan Soto is listed twice,

    • Mauired

      When his rehab is finished/suspension over, he has to at least be added to 40 man.

      So unless they move someone to 60 day IL, someone has to be designated for assignment.

      Santiago?

      He’s hasn’t done much and he was basically Marte’s replacement.

      Reply
    • Doug Gray

      Yes, that was a typo and it’s been corrected. Thanks for the heads up.

      Reply
    • The Duke

      Sounds like CES is a prime candidate to hit the 60 day IL and open up the 40 man roster spot.

      Reply
  8. JB

    Whoever they option to AAA, it’s a good problem to have. Just to be 2 games under .500 is amazing with the amount of injuries this team has had.

    Reply
  9. Chris

    Easy decision is Espinal. He’s terrible, and no longer needed. Easy to drop him off the 40 man too. Moving Hurtibise, or Dunn still leaves an issue with the 40 man.

    Reply
    • wkuchad

      I’m fine optioning him down, but keep him on the 40. What happens if EDLC or Marte goes on IL? We don’t have McLain or Arroyo.

      Reply
  10. Roger Garrett

    Marte is a welcome addition to the team when it happens.No doubt he will be part of the core group going forward.Guy can hit and he puts the ball in play and you can’t have enough of those kind of hitters.

    Reply
  11. Jason Franklin

    New just out about CES needing season ending surgery. Appears there was more then a break but also ligament damage. Good he got that 2nd opinion now, right?

    Also, Williamson may have a lesion in his shoulder that needs work too.

    Reply
    • VegasRed

      Another misdiagnosis from Reds’ medical team?

      What an organization of clowns. For all the reasons ad nauseum chronicled heretofore.

      Reply
  12. LDS

    So much for Williamson and CES returning this year. Sheldon is reporting both are potentially having season ending surgery. You’d think the Reds physicians would have figured it out before now. When I broke my wrist, the orthopedist eliminated the tendon damage on the initial imaging studies.

    Reply
    • Optimist

      Doubt anyone posting here is an examining Dr. for either player. Also doubt the “Reds physicians” are missing anything here. Sounds more like some very minute, yet serious enough, injuries worthy of 2nd, 3rd or 4th opinions. Also also, if anywhere other than the highest impact area, respectively, in each case, and it would likely be much shorter recovery times.

      Finally – may just come down to short-term partial fix and play thru it, vs. long-absence permanent fix and see you next spring.

      Reply
  13. west larry

    CES and Williamson out for the year. CES needs surgery to repair ligaments in his hand, Williemson has some sort f a tear in his shoulder,

    Reply

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