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MLB and MLBPA could soon agree to alter the penalties for performance-enhancing drug users

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According to Ronald Blum of the Associated Press, Major League Baseball execs and the Major League Baseball Players Association are working toward an agreement that would increase the initial suspension length for intentional performance-enhancing drug users and decrease the initial penalty for those found to have used PEDs unintentionally.

There would also a significant increase on the suspension length for second-time performance-enhancing drug offenders. Blum says the two sides “hope to reach an agreement by Sunday,” before the Dodgers play the Padres on Opening Night in San Diego. More from Blum’s report on the Associated Press website:

While the lengths have not been finalized, the sides are discussing a 100-game ban for an initial violation and a season-long ban for a second, one of the people said.

“It will be a significant deterrent because players will know they’re not going to just easily walk back into a lineup,”

Travis Tygart, chief executive officer of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “It probably is the best policy in professional sports.”

For inadvertent use, the penalty for a first violation would be cut in half to 25 games.

“What we’re all here for it to rid sports of the intentional cheats, those who are intending to defraud both the fans and their fellow teammates, the integrity of competition,” Tygart said. “You want to have provisions in place that allow for whether there’s an inadvertent or a truly non-intentional situation which may arise.”

Under MLB’s current drug prevention program, all first-time offenders are given 50-game suspensions.

A ton of players came out in favor of harsher PED penalties last summer after the Biogenesis scandal broke, and now it appears that they’re willing to put it into writing. While simply tearing up the old agreement.

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UPDATE, 9:28 p.m. ET: More on this from Joel Sherman of the New York Post

Report: Teams have inquired with the Angels about Hector Santiago

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 20:  Hector Santiago #53 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 20, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported on Monday that the Angels have received inquiries from multiple teams concerning starter Hector Santiago. He adds that the club is willing to listen to offers. Jon Morosi of FOX Sports and MLB Network reports that the Marlins are among the teams that have inquired.

Santiago, 28, has pitched to a 4.32 ERA with 96 strikeouts and 47 walks in 110 1/3 innings. Sabermetric statistics such as FIP, xFIP, and SIERA think the lefty has pitched even worse than his ERA indicates however, pitting 2016 as his worst performance to date.

Santiago is earning $5 million this season and will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility going into 2017.

We also learned earlier that, in an effort to bolster their starting rotation, the Marlins have also shown interest in Wade Miley of the Mariners and Jeremy Hellickson of the Phillies.

Prince Fielder will undergo season-ending neck surgery this week

SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 10: Prince Fielder #84 takes a swing during a game against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on June 10, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Mariners won the game 7-5. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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The Rangers placed DH Prince Fielder on the disabled list last week due to more neck discomfort. On Friday, Fielder met with Dr. Drew Dossett, who performed spinal fusion surgery on Fielder in 2014 for a herniated disk in his neck. Dossett has recommended another procedure, so Fielder will undergo season-ending surgery this week, Jeff Wilson of the Fort-Worth Star Telegram reports.

Fielder was having a rough season, batting .212/.292/.334 with eight home runs and 44 RBI in 370 plate appearances. He played in only 42 games in 2014, but returned in 2015 looking more like his old self. Unfortunately, neck and back issues are notoriously difficult to fix. Hopefully, this upcoming procedure does the trick for Fielder.

Fielder is owed $24 million per season through 2020, with the Tigers paying $6 million of it per season.