Jays first-rounder Marcus Stroman explains 50-game ban

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Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman, who was selected 22nd overall in the 2012 MLB draft, was banned 50 games after testing positive for Methylhexaneamine today. He issued a release afterwards:

Despite taking precautions to avoid violating the minor league testing program, I unknowingly ingested a banned stimulant that was in an over-the-counter supplement. Nonetheless, I accept full responsibility and I want to apologize to the Toronto Blue Jays organization, my family, my teammates, and the Blue Jays fans everywhere. I look forward to putting this behind me and rejoining my teammates.

Stroman, who went to Duke, was viewed as one of the most advanced players in the draft, someone who could help a team out of the bullpen in the very near future. However, the 50-game ban will push back his timetable, since he won’t get back on the mound until next May. The 21-year-old right-hander had a 3.26 ERA and a 23/9 K/BB ratio in 19 1/3 innings out of the pen between SS Single-A Vancouver and Double-A New Hampshire this season.

Padres may have more interest in Dallas Keuchel than Bryce Harper

Dallas Keuchel
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An interesting tidbit today from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who noted that ongoing talks between agent Scott Boras and the Padres have focused more on starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel than slugger Bryce Harper. Earlier this week, there were conflicting reports on the Padres’ level of interest in Harper — MLB Network’s Jon Heyman heard the club had not ruled out another big signing after getting Manny Machado, while Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune talked to multiple sources who believed otherwise — but any agreement between the two is looking unlikelier by the day.

As for Keuchel, Rosenthal cautions that a potential deal is still a “longshot,” especially as the team has other, cheaper options in mind. The 31-year-old southpaw turned down a qualifying offer from the Astros last year and is likely angling for something north of the five-year, $90 million contract extension he rejected from the club in 2016. He’s coming off of another solid performance in Houston, where he went 12-11 in 34 starts with a 3.74 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 6.7 SO/9, and 3.6 fWAR through 204 2/3 innings in 2018.

While Keuchel has failed to garner substantial interest around the league this offseason, Heyman points out that the Phillies are looking to establish themselves as frontrunners for the lefty — and they’re far less likely to have hang-ups about his asking price, too.