Free agent reliever Matt Belisle picked up a minor-league contract with the Indians, the team announced Sunday. Per ESPN’s Buster Olney, Belisle will receive $1.5 million if he makes the big league roster and can earn an additional $1.75 million in bonuses.
Belisle, 37, is coming off of a one-year gig with the Twins, during which he fired a 4.03 ERA, 3.3 BB/9 and 8.1 SO/9 through 60 1/3 innings. Following Brandon Kintzler‘s midseason trade to the Nationals, the veteran righty got a taste of the closer’s role during the second half of the season and finished 20 games with a career-high nine saves.
The Indians are projected to start the season with a bullpen comprised of closer Cody Allen, right-handers Dan Otero, Zach McAllister and Nick Goody and left-handers Andrew Miller and Tyler Olson. According to MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, Belisle is expected to compete with fellow veteran right-hander and non-roster invitee Carlos Torres for the remaining spot. The 35-year-old Torres signed a minors deal with the club last week and carried a 4.21 ERA, 4.1 B/9 and 6.9 SO/9 in 72 2/3 innings for the Brewers in 2017.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported last night that Major League Baseball is “actively pursuing an additional medical lab site to increase the speed and efficiency” of MLB COVID-19 tests.
The current setup — as planned by MLB and approved by the MLBPA as a part of the plan to play the 2020 season — is for all MLB COVID-19 tests to be sent to and processed by MLB’s PED testing lab in Salt Lake City, Utah. As you likely heard, there have been delays in the administration of COVID-19 tests and in the shipping of tests to Utah, but to date no one has reported that the lab itself has not been able to handle the tests once they’ve arrived there. If MLB is looking for a second lab site a week into this process, it suggests that their plans for the Utah lab might not be working the way they had anticipated.
The issues with testing have created unease around the game in recent days, with some players and team executives speaking out against Major League Baseball’s handling of the plan in the early going. Commissioner Rob Manfred, meanwhile, has responded defensively to the criticism.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reported this morning that, months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States still lacks testing capacity. From the report:
Lines for coronavirus tests have stretched around city blocks and tests ran out altogether in at least one site on Monday, new evidence that the country is still struggling to create a sufficient testing system months into its battle with Covid-19 . . .“It’s terrifying, and clearly an evidence of a failure of the system,” said Dr. Morgan Katz, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins Hospital . . . in recent weeks, as cases have surged in many states, the demand for testing has soared, surpassing capacity and creating a new testing crisis.
It’s less than obvious, to say the least, how Major League Baseball plans to expand capacity for MLB COVID-19 tests while America as a whole is experiencing “a new testing crisis” and a “failure of the system.” At the very least it’s less than obvious how, even if Major League Baseball can do so, it can do so ethically.