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

Hunter Pence is mashing for the Rangers

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Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.

Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.

Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.

What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.

That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.