Ryan Braun

MVP Braun’s positive test spells disaster for MLB

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This is just the kind of PR mess that commissioner Bud Selig and his cronies didn’t need this month.

The National League’s newly minted Most Valuable Player tested positive for enhanced testosterone levels during the postseason, and now Ryan Braun joins legends like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez and Mark McGwire in being implicated for steroid usage.

Through his own PR guy, Braun maintained his innocence, and there’s a chance his name will be cleared on appeal. Still, the steroid taint never goes away entirely.

It’s a real shame, in part because Braun seemed a bit more human than some of the league’s recent heroes. At 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, he looks normal enough, yet he hits some of the hardest balls of anyone in the league. Braun also has a rep as a good guy, and he committed himself to spending the bulk of his career with the small-market Brewers when he signed a $105 million extension through 2020 in April.

So, if a guy like Braun, who has next to nothing left to gain financially by roiding, is cheating anyway, it suggests baseball’s steroid problem isn’t even close to being wiped out. That baseball gets the bulk of the attention in this department even though steroids have certainly been more prevalent during the NFL’s history isn’t fair, but it’s the game’s burden anyway.

Report: Dodgers could pursue three-year deal with Rich Hill

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 18:  Rich Hill #44 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs in game three of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.

Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.

The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.

Yankees in, Red Sox out on Edwin Encarnacion

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19:  Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on against the Cleveland Indians during game five of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 19, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler AustinGreg Bird combo in 2017.

The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.

Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.