After going unsigned two months into the season, veteran reliever Rafael Soriano agreed to a minor league contract with the Cubs earlier this week. However, it’s going to be a while before he joins the major league bullpen.
According to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said today that he doesn’t expect Soriano to help until after the All-Star break. In other words, he’s about a month away. The 35-year-old is currently throwing at the team’s Dominican Republic academy and will almost certainly need to pitch in a handful of minor league games before being activated.
Soriano posted a 3.19 ERA and 59/19 K/BB ratio over 62 innings with the Nationals last season, but he lost his closer job down the stretch following a rough second half. Per James Wagner of the Washington Post, he’ll make a prorated $4.1 million salary with the Cubs and could earn an additional $4 million in bonuses for games finished and appearances.
Maddon recently pulled Hector Rondon from a save chance, which has led to all sorts of speculation about the team’s closer situation. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported yesterday that the Cubs and Blue Jays are among the teams who have had recent trade talks with the Phillies about Jonathan Papelbon.
On Friday evening, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association announced the first set of results for COVID-19 testing as part of the mandatory intake screening process under MLB’s COVID-19 Health Monitoring & Testing Plan. Per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Athletics are not part of this data because their testing has not yet been completed.
There were 38 positive tests, accounting for 1.2% of the 3,185 samples collected and tested. 31 of the 38 individuals who tested positive are players. 19 different teams had one or more individuals test positive.
Sports Illustrated’s Emma Baccellieri notes that the positive test rate in the U.S. nationally is 8.3 percent. The NBA’s positive test rate was 7.1 percent. MLB’s positive test rate is well below average. This doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is wrong with MLB’s testing or that it’s an atypical round of testing. Rather, MLB’s testing population may more closely represent the U.S. population as a whole. Currently, because testing is still somewhat limited, those who have taken tests have tended to be those exhibiting symptoms or those who have been around others who have tested positive. If every single person in the U.S. took a test, the positive test rate would likely come in at a much lower number.
Several players who tested positive have given their consent for their identities to be made known. Those are: Delino DeShields (link), Brett Martin (link), Edward Colina, Nick Gordon, and Willians Astudillo (link). Additionally, Red Sox lefty Eduardo Rodríguez has not shown up to Red Sox camp yet because he has been around someone who tested positive, per The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey.