Braden Looper is holding out for Damon money or something…

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2546.jpgBecause he’s currently turning teams away. Bill Ladson of MLB.com tweeted this morning that the veteran right-hander declined a deal with the Nationals, while Ken Gurnick of MLB.com tells us this evening that the Dodgers aren’t willing to sign him at his current asking price.

Of course, this probably all comes down to finding a guaranteed major league contract. His agent Alan Hendricks is no doubt talking up Looper’s 14 wins from last season, as he should, but we all know better. The 35-year-old posted a 5.22 ERA and 1.49 WHIP in 34 starts last season, while striking out a meager 100 batters in 194 2/3 innings (4.62 K/9 – sixth lowest in the majors among starters with at least 150 IP).

Looper has earned the reputation as a groundball pitcher, but has seen his flyball rate increase sharply since transitioning to the starting rotation. It’s unlikely he gives up as many home runs this season as he did last, but he’s still at the mercy of the players behind him. If a guaranteed contract is what he seeks, he might be best served to play the role of ambulance-chaser, waiting for the first sign of injury in a team’s starting rotation.

MLB, union resume blood testing after pandemic, lockout

Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK – In the first acknowledgment that MLB and the players’ association resumed blood testing for human growth hormone, the organizations said none of the 1,027 samples taken during the 2022 season tested positive.

HGH testing stopped in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Testing also was halted during the 99-day lockout that ended in mid-March, and there were supply chain issues due to COVID-19 and additional caution in testing due to coronavirus protocols.

The annual public report is issued by Thomas M. Martin, independent program administrator of MLB’s joint drug prevention and treatment program. In an announcement accompanying Thursday’s report, MLB and the union said test processing is moving form the INRS Laboratory in Quebec, Canada, to the UCLA Laboratory in California.

MLB tests for HGH using dried blood spot testing, which was a change that was agreed to during bargaining last winter. There were far fewer samples taken in 2022 compared to 2019, when there were 2,287 samples were collected – none positive.

Beyond HGH testing, 9,011 urine samples were collected in the year ending with the 2022 World Series, up from 8,436 in the previous year but down from 9,332 in 2019. And therapeutic use exemptions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder dropped for the ninth straight year, with just 72 exemptions in 2022.

Overall, the league issued six suspensions in 2022 for performance-enhancing substances: three for Boldenone (outfielder/first baseman Danny Santana, pitcher Richard Rodriguez and infielder Jose Rondon, all free agents, for 80 games apiece); one each for Clomiphene (Milwaukee catcher Pedro Severino for 80 games), Clostebol (San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. for 80 games) and Stanozolol (Milwaukee pitcher J.C. Mejia for 80 games).

There was an additional positive test for the banned stimulant Clobenzorex. A first positive test for a banned stimulant results in follow-up testing with no suspension.