Father Time appears to be catching up with Joe Nathan, so the Tigers are looking to the trade market to fortify the late innings.
Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that the Tigers are interested in Joakim Soria and Jason Frasor of the Rangers and Chad Qualls of the Astros, among others. All three pitchers have experience in the closer role.
Nathan, 39, owns an ugly 6.16 ERA over 33 appearances this season and is tied for second in the majors with five blown saves. Joba Chamberlain has pitched well in a set-up capacity, but the Tigers could use some reinforcements. Joel Hanrahan signed a one-year deal with the club in May, but he hasn’t been cleared for game action yet as he makes his way back from Tommy John surgery.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported earlier this week that the Tigers are “quite interested” in a possible reunion with Padres reliever Joaquin Benoit. The 36-year-old saved 24 games for Detroit last season. Benoit’s teammate in San Diego, Huston Street, could be another potential target.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Zach Buchanan report that the Diamondbacks are one of several teams that have used labs other than the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Utah to process COVID-19 testing. MLB has encountered delays with its testing, despite promising 24-hour turnaround time, so teams have tried other avenues — with the league’s endorsement — in order to get faster results.
The SMRTL had processed performance-enhancing drug screenings for MLB. The league converted it to process COVID-19 tests amid concerns that having a season and all of the testing that would be required throughout would take away testing resources from the general public. That some teams are utilizing labs other than the SMRTL suggests the league, indeed, is usurping those resources.
In prospect Seth Beer’s case, he tested positive for COVID-19. He needed to test negative twice consecutively to be cleared to return to play. Beer went to a third-party site in the Phoenix area. He received his second negative test and was cleared to return on July 9.
The Diamondbacks said that the labs they have used have assured them that they are not taking away tests from the public. That seems like a claim MLB and the D-Backs should demonstrably prove. Per Rosenthal and Buchahan, the D-Backs have gone to an outside lab about 20 times, which accounts for less than one percent of COVID-19 tests taken by players and staff. Still, those are 20 tests that could have been used by the general public. And if the D-Backs and a handful of other teams already are using outside labs, then the rest of the league likely already is or soon will be doing the same. In the end, there will be a lot more than 20 tests taken at outside labs by MLB players and staff. Considering that “Tier 1” players will be tested every other day throughout the season, the total of third-party tests taken — if things continue the way they are now — could easily reach into the thousands by the end of October.
We all want baseball back, but the players, coaches, and all other staff are no more important than cashiers, teachers, and delivery drivers, so they shouldn’t have more access to COVID-19 testing simply by virtue of being associated with Major League Baseball and all of its influence and financial muscle. It would be unethical for MLB to be cutting in line ahead of other people who need testing just as much as if not more than the players.