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Ryan Braun’s PED suspension appeal was heard Thursday

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Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun finally got his day in court on Thursday afternoon. Here’s the story, from reporters Bill Madden, Andy Martino and Teri Thompson of the New York Daily News:

Ryan Braun, the National League’s Most Valuable Player, pleaded his case Thursday before a three-member panel that will decide whether he faces a 50-game suspension for testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone.

The appeal came just two days before Braun will accept his MVP award at the New York Chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s dinner Saturday night at the New York Hilton, sources familiar with Braun told the Daily News.

The panel, made up of MLB Players Association executive director Michael Weiner, MLB executive vice president for labor relations Rob Manfred and independent arbitrator Shyam Das, is not expected to reach a decision before Braun accepts his award. But our guess would be that it won’t take more than a week.

Braun is maintaining a cry of innocence, but that early-October PED test showed insanely high levels of synthetic testosterone in his bloodstream and you have to wonder how he could possibly attempt to prove that it wasn’t ever there. Calling the test result a false-positive isn’t going to cut it, and arguing that something non performance-enhancing triggered the positive reading would require a whole lot of convincing.

Diamondbacks sign Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million deal

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 21:  Fernando Rodney #56 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 21, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.

Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.

Hazen issued a statement following the signing:

With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.

Cardinals, Dexter Fowler agree to a five-year, $82 million deal

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.

The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.

For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.