The Mets and Brewers struck a deal on Saturday. Outfielder Keon Broxton is headed to New York while right-handed reliever Bobby Wahl, right-handed pitching prospect Adam Hill, and infield prospect Felix Valerio will head back to Milwaukee in return.
Broxton, 28, surfaced in just 51 major-league games during the 2018 and finished the year batting .179/.281/.410 with four home runs, five stolen bases (in six chances) and a .691 OPS through 89 PA. His lapsed skills at the plate may just be the direct result of decreased playing time — he hit 20 homers and 21 stolen bases with the Brewers in 2017, and surpassed the latter total at Triple-A Colorado Springs in 2018 — but it’s his superlative defense that makes him such a get for the Mets. He’ll get another chance to distinguish himself on both fronts as he backs up center fielder Juan Lagares in 2019.
The Brewers, meanwhile, will add righty Bobby Wahl to a bullpen that ranked fourth-best in the majors last season. The hard-throwing 26-year-old was included in a package deal for Jeurys Familia at the trade deadline and logged just 5 1/3 innings in the majors by the end of the year. In back-to-back campaigns for the Athletics’ and Mets’ Triple-A teams, he pitched to a combined 3.40 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, and 14.6 SO/9 across 45 frames.
Milwaukee also netted a pair of young prospects in the trade. Hill, 21, was taken in the fourth round of the 2018 draft and completed his first run-through with short-season Brooklyn, to the tune of a 2.35 ERA, 4.1 BB/9, and 15.3 SO/9 in 15 1/3 innings. Valerio, 18, batted .319/.409/.433 with three home runs, 16 stolen bases (in 22 chances), and an .843 OPS through 303 PA in the Dominican Summer League.
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.