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Cubs may trade Kris Bryant to gain some payroll flexibility

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Bruce Levine of 670 The Score reports that the Cubs have discussed a Kris Bryant trade with the Phillies. Nothing is close yet, and Levine notes that Bryant’s ongoing service time grievance is still an issue.

Including projected salaries from pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible players, the Cubs’ 2020 payroll as it pertains to the competitive balance tax is nearly $210 million, according to Cot’s Contracts. The CBT threshold for 2020 is $208 million, meaning the Cubs would pay a penalty on the overage. Bryant, who is either entering his second-to-last or final year of arbitration eligibility (depending on the outcome of his grievance) is projected to earn around $19 million in 2020. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal suggests that trading Bryant would be one way the Cubs would be able to clear payroll space so as not to exceed the CBT threshold.

Bryant turns 28 next month. He is coming off of another productive season in which he hit .282/.382/.521 with 31 home runs and 77 RBI across 634 plate appearances. He’s a three-time All-Star who won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award and the 2016 NL MVP Award.

The Cubs last season finished 84-78, fading in September and ultimately settling for third place in the NL Central. Trading Bryant to facilitate signing free agents to cover other positions may not even help the Cubs return to prominence in the division, but a haul of prospects may help set the Cubs up for the future if they don’t see themselves signing Bryant to a contract extension.

Baseball seeking a second lab for MLB COVID-19 tests

MLB COVID-19 tests
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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.