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Report: Nationals interested in Lance Lynn

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Free agent right-hander Lance Lynn has garnered considerable interest around the league this offseason, most recently from the Nationals. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal speculates that the team would be hard-pressed to accommodate someone with Lynn’s asking price, given that they’ve already blown past the $197 million luxury tax threshold, but that still may not prevent them from making an offer.

Lynn, 30, thrived in his first full season since undergoing Tommy John surgery in late 2015. While he has yet to return to the sub-3.00 ERA, 3.0+ fWAR totals of seasons past, he had a healthy, productive run with the Cardinals in 2017, going 11-8 in a career-high 33 starts and turning in a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 in 186 1/3 innings. Better still, he managed to dodge the disabled list entirely, missing just four days with a blister on his throwing hand and exhibiting no signs of recurring elbow issues.

Of course, the Nationals aren’t the only ones who want to buy in on a stable veteran starter. The Brewers, Orioles, Rangers and Twins have all been connected to Lynn at various points throughout the winter, though no clear frontrunner has emerged just yet. Both the Brewers and Orioles are arguably better-positioned to make a play for Lynn, but they currently appear more invested in fellow free agent right-hander Alex Cobb, who is still on the market after rejecting a three-year, $42 million offer from the Cubs earlier this offseason.

Report: Some MLB teams using outside labs for COVID-19 testing

MLB COVID-19 testing
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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.