In 1979 a fourth Triple-A league started up business, joining the International League, Pacific Coast League and then-still-existing American Association. It was called the Inter-American League. It had no big league affiliations, but it was sanctioned by Major League Baseball.
Former big leaguers like Tom House, Mike Cuellar and Cito Gaston all played for Inter-American League teams which included one American team (the Miami Amigos) and five franchises based in the Caribbean: San Juan, Puerto Rico; Caracas, Venezuela; Maracaibo, Venezuela; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; and Panama City, Panama. It was the brainchild of Bobby Maduro, who worked as an assistant to MLB commissioner Bowie Kuhn. The plan was to play a 130-game schedule stretched over five months.
It didn’t last. Today, Bruce Markusen of The Hardball Times has a great article on it, detailing the good, the bad and the ugly of the IAL.
It’s quite a story. One team had a nice new tarp but didn’t know how to put it on the field. Another team forgot to send in box scores to the league office, so they couldn’t keep track of the stats. One team had a blank scoreboard sometimes because they only had one scoreboard operator and sometimes he worked nights. Many pitchers got special permission to only show up on days they pitched because they had day jobs selling shoes and stuff.
Obviously, the league folded. But Markusen’s story breathes new life into a long gone, quite weird little corner of baseball history. Go read it.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.