Ryan Braun’s testosterone levels were “insanely high,” says source close to the MVP outfielder

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Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun is passionately fighting a positive performance-enhancing drug test result that would land him a 50-game suspension if upheld at an arbitration hearing in January. His side of the story: the result was false — a false positive.

Braun told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel late Saturday night that he’s “completely innocent” of using synthetic testosterone, and now a source close to the 2011 National League MVP has suggested to Teri Thompson of the New York Daily News that the results of the positive test were too high to be taken seriously. As in, they were at a dangerous level.

Here’s more from Thompson and the Daily News:

Ryan Braun’s original test for performance-enhancing drugs as the playoffs were winding down in October was “insanely high, the highest ever for anyone who has ever taken a test, twice the level of the highest test ever taken,” said a source familiar with the developing case in which Ryan was reported to have tested positive for an elevated level of testosterone caused by a synthetic substance, triggering a possible 50-game suspension.

The never-before-seen ratio, according to the source, is one of several “highly unusual circumstances.”

Braun will likely enlist doctors and health experts to help plead his case — that an elite athlete wouldn’t mess around with such crazy levels of testosterone. But here’s the other side: Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports spoke Sunday with a source connected to the World Anti-Doping Agency — a group of scientists who got a look at Braun’s test sample — and was told that a false-positive is “almost impossible.”

Also, a source told the Daily News that Major League Baseball has never overturned a PED test appeal. Players are 0-for-13. So even if the almost-impossible happened, it might not really matter for Braun.

Noah Syndergaard on Mets extending Jacob deGrom: ‘Pay the man already.’

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March has marked contract extension season across Major League Baseball. Just in the last week, we have seen Justin Verlander, Chris Sale, Brandon Lowe, Alex Bregman, Ryan Pressly, Mike Trout, Eloy Jiménez, Blake Snell, and Paul Goldschmidt sign extensions. Nolan Arenado, Luis Severino, and Aaron Nola also notably signed extensions during the offseason.

One name strikingly absent from that list: Mets ace Jacob deGrom. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner is coming off of a season in which he posted a 1.70 ERA with 269 strikeouts and 46 walks across 217 innings. It’s the lowest ERA by a qualified starter since Zack Greinke‘s 1.66 in 2015. Prior to Greinke, no pitcher had posted an ERA of 1.70 or lower since Greg Maddux in 1994-95 (1.56, 1.63).

deGrom is earning $17 million this season and will enter his fourth and final year of arbitration eligibility going into the 2020 season. He will turn 31 years old in June, but is an obvious extension candidate for the Mets, who have built arguably their most competitive team since 2015, when the club lost the World Series in five games to the Royals. Thus far, though, the Mets and deGrom haven’t been able to get anywhere in extension talks.

deGrom’s rotation mate Noah Syndergaard is watching. Per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, Syndergaard said, “I think Jake’s the best pitcher in baseball right now. I think he deserves whatever amount he’s worth. I want them to keep him happy so when it does come time for him to reach free agency, he stays on our side pitching for the Mets. I just think they should quit all the fuss and pay the man already.”

Syndergaard added that the recent extension trend around baseball — and deGrom’s lack of an extension to date — sends a message. He said, “I think so, yes, because of what you see in what’s going on in baseball right now. If there wasn’t a trend of other guys getting contract extensions, then I don’t know what the circumstance would be. But you see Chris Sale, Verlander getting extensions. I think it’s time Jacob gets one too.”

Part of the equation behind the recent rash of extensions is the stagnation of free agency. Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel — two of baseball’s better pitchers — have gone through almost an entire spring training without being signed. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado didn’t find new homes until late February. Free agents in their 30’s are largely being underpaid or otherwise forgotten about. Extensions represent financial security for young and old players alike. Syndergaard himself can become a free agent after the 2021 season, so if deGrom’s prospects improve, then so too will his, at least without knowing the details of the next collective bargaining agreement which will be put into place ahead of the 2022 season.