Luiz Gohara
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Report: Rangers interested in Luiz Gohara

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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Rangers have sent several scouts to observe Braves pitching prospect Luiz Gohara. The Braves appear to have similar interest in relievers Keone Kela and Jake Diekman (and, to a lesser extent, Adrian Beltre), though a deal doesn’t appear to be in the works just yet — and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal hears that they may be more interested in swapping for a starter with several years of control, rather than a package deal for more bullpen assistance.

Gohara, 21, placed sixth among the Braves’ prospects in MLB Pipeline’s midseason rankings. The left-hander has long been lauded for his exceptional fastball and improving slider and changeup, but hasn’t looked quite himself this season after turning in a 5.44 ERA, 3.3 BB/9 and 8.6 SO/9 across 43 innings at the Double- and Triple-A levels. During nine outings in the big leagues, Gohara allowed 13 runs, three homers and struck out 18 batters in 19 2/3 innings. There’s still plenty of potential left to offset his struggles with velocity and command, however, and The Athletic’s David O’Brien adds that a deal is likely imminent if Gohara “shows anything at all” during his start on Sunday. (He also notes that while the Rangers’ scouts traveled Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for the Rangers/Yankees’ Triple-A contest, they were not there specifically to see Gohara.)

Kela, 25, is one of several bullpen arms the Rangers are shopping this month. The right-hander logged 23 saves with a solid 3.28 ERA, 3.0 BB/9 and 10.9 SO/9 in 35 2/3 innings this season and has drawn interest from the Dodgers, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Red Sox, Indians and Giants in addition to the Braves. Five of those teams showed up to scout Kela on Saturday, per Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Diekman, 31, has looked a little less dominant than his teammate this year after producing a 3.79 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 10.9 SO/9 through 38 innings. He’s also drawn considerable interest as teams approach the trade deadline, though, and could bolster a Braves’ bullpen that currently ranks seventh in the NL with a combined 3.61 ERA and 1.8 fWAR.

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.