Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times reports that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA have agreed to expand the drug testing program. Specifically, they have agreed to start in-season blood testing for human growth hormone and to implement a new test designed to better police testosterone use.
Previously, HGH testing — which requires blood draws — had been limited to spring training. Some players had voiced reservations about giving blood, say, before a game, but the objections were obviously dispensed with.
The new testosterone test is more interesting, as there has been a growing chorus of voices saying that more and more players have turned to testosterone as their PED of choice in recent years. Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon were suspended for using testosterone last season. Ryan Braun tested positive for testosterone at the end of the 2011 season, but had his suspension overturned on appeal.
The league is expected to formally announce these changes later today.
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.