MLB official says Ryan Braun’s 50-game PED suspension is unlikely to be overturned

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At some point within the next few weeks, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun will have the opportunity to plead his innocence against a charge that he was taking performance-enhancing drugs around the start of the 2011 postseason. But he faces great odds.

The evidence against him comes in the form of a test, administered in either late September or early October, that had a positive reading for elevated levels of testosterone. That test was then passed along to the World Anti-Doping Agency lab in Montreal, where it was determined through further examination that the testosterone was synthetic — not produced by Braun’s body.

Braun might argue that the result was a false-positive, but an expert in the field of drug testing told Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports last month that those are “almost impossible” with today’s technology. Braun might say that result was triggered by a prescribed medication — something non-performance-enhancing — but how can he prove that and would it really matter if he could? The test showed insanely high levels of unnatural testosterone. However that testosterone arrived in Braun’s system, it’s against the rules for it to be there.

And even if Braun is telling the truth, and has never put synthetic testosterone into his body, a test that boasts an accuracy rating of nearly 100 percent says that the stuff was, at one point, present.

Which leads us to a report from Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who was told this weekend by an “MLB official familiar with the process” that Braun’s 50-game suspension is unlikely to be overturned. The 2011 NL MVP deserves his day in court, and he’ll get it later this month when he presents his case in front of an arbitrator, but it’s nearly certain that he’ll miss close to one-third of the 2012 campaign.

Report: Yankees, Reds finalizing trade for Sonny Gray

Sonny Gray
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Barring physicals and roster reshuffling, the Yankees and Reds are all but ready to finalize a deal involving right-hander Sonny Gray, Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported Saturday. The exact return has not been confirmed, but Heyman hears that the Yankees will receive top infield prospect Shed Long and a draft pick in exchange for Gray, with an as-yet unnamed third player possibly involved as well.

According to several reports earlier in the day, negotiations came down to the wire as the Yankees first had their eye on the Reds’ no. 6 prospect, 22-year-old catcher Tyler Stephenson. The Reds ultimately elected to hang on to Stephenson and send Long to New York, as they currently have a greater need for catching depth and weren’t expected to be able to provide a full-time role for the infielder in 2019. Long, 23, is ranked seventh in the Reds’ system and appears to be nearing his MLB debut after batting .261/.353/.412 with 12 homers and a .765 OPS across 522 PA at Double-A Pensacola last year.

Gray figures to step into a prominent role within the Reds’ rotation, which is likely to be a mix of recently-acquired left-hander Alex Wood and right-handers Tanner Roark, Luis Castillo, Anthony DeSclafani, and Tyler Mahle, among several others. Despite Gray’s struggle to remain productive on the mound — he’s three years removed from his only All-Star campaign and turned in a disappointing 4.90 ERA and 2.16 SO/BB rate in 2018 — he might yet help stabilize a team that trotted out the fifth-worst rotation in the majors last season. If, on the other hand, the veteran righty finds the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ball Park a little too unforgiving this year, the Reds can take some comfort in the fact that he’s due to enter free agency in 2020.