Cardinals undecided about picking up Jaime Garcia’s 2017 option

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The Cardinals have a club option on starter Jaime Garcia‘s contract for the 2017 season worth $12 million with a $500,000 buyout. The club is still undecided about picking it up, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Garcia, 30, had battled injuries from 2012-15 but was able to make 30 starts during the 2016 regular season. That marked the first time he had made 21 or more starts since 2011. However, he finished with a 4.67 ERA and a 150/57 K/BB ratio in 171 2/3 innings. He allowed 26 home runs as well. Garcia attributes the increased home run and walk rates to mechanical issues he wasn’t able to overcome.

Garcia said on Sunday, via Goold, “The consistency wasn’t there. I’m not that pitcher. I’ve never been that pitcher, even when there have been injuries. I’ve never had a season like this where I’m healthy, I was just not consistent. So that’s something new. Something different. Something to improve.”

The Cardinals have already decided not to pick up the 2017 options on outfielder Matt Holliday and reliever Jordan Walden. They could do the same with Garcia. Goold notes that the Cardinals made Garcia available in trade talks during the summer.

MLB, union resume blood testing after pandemic, lockout

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NEW YORK – In the first acknowledgment that MLB and the players’ association resumed blood testing for human growth hormone, the organizations said none of the 1,027 samples taken during the 2022 season tested positive.

HGH testing stopped in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Testing also was halted during the 99-day lockout that ended in mid-March, and there were supply chain issues due to COVID-19 and additional caution in testing due to coronavirus protocols.

The annual public report is issued by Thomas M. Martin, independent program administrator of MLB’s joint drug prevention and treatment program. In an announcement accompanying Thursday’s report, MLB and the union said test processing is moving form the INRS Laboratory in Quebec, Canada, to the UCLA Laboratory in California.

MLB tests for HGH using dried blood spot testing, which was a change that was agreed to during bargaining last winter. There were far fewer samples taken in 2022 compared to 2019, when there were 2,287 samples were collected – none positive.

Beyond HGH testing, 9,011 urine samples were collected in the year ending with the 2022 World Series, up from 8,436 in the previous year but down from 9,332 in 2019. And therapeutic use exemptions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder dropped for the ninth straight year, with just 72 exemptions in 2022.

Overall, the league issued six suspensions in 2022 for performance-enhancing substances: three for Boldenone (outfielder/first baseman Danny Santana, pitcher Richard Rodriguez and infielder Jose Rondon, all free agents, for 80 games apiece); one each for Clomiphene (Milwaukee catcher Pedro Severino for 80 games), Clostebol (San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. for 80 games) and Stanozolol (Milwaukee pitcher J.C. Mejia for 80 games).

There was an additional positive test for the banned stimulant Clobenzorex. A first positive test for a banned stimulant results in follow-up testing with no suspension.