Link-O-Rama: Valentine, Tigers, Schmidt, Griffey

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* Bobby Valentine revealed that he was “baffled” by the Nationals’ interview process and decision to choose Jim Riggleman over him for the manager job. “I’m pretty sure they had Jim in their back pockets the whole time,” Valentine said.
* Asked about rumors that the Tigers are being forced to shop Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson because of payroll constraints, general manager Dave Dombrowski said: “We’re not having a fire sale.” Of course, no one really accused Detroit of holding a fire sale and he didn’t deny anything specific regarding Granderson or Jackson.
* Jason Schmidt is keeping his options open, but will likely retire after spending the past three years unsuccessfully coming back from shoulder surgery. Schmidt won just three games during his three-year, $47 million contract with the Dodgers after going 78-37 with a 3.36 ERA over six seasons for the rival Giants.
* Now that Ken Griffey Jr. is back in Seattle for at least one more season, Greg Johns of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer examines how far the future Hall of Famer can move up various all-time leaderboards.

Report: Major League Baseball bans transactions with Mexican League teams

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Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Major League Baseball has banned all transactions with Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (LMB), popularly known as the Mexican League. As of now, all 30 teams are prohibited from signing players under contract with LMB teams. The ban was issued due to Major League Baseball’s contention that “corruption” and “fraud” run rampant in the player acquisition process.

Passan describes the issues in detail, and they sound pretty compelling. The upshot: LMB clubs — which have full control over their players — are taking advantage of them, taking most if not all of the signing bonuses MLB teams give them after negotiating for their rights. Mexican teams often sign players when they’re 15 years-old so that, once they are old enough for American teams to approach them, they’re in the position to take a usurious cut.

Passan says Major League Baseball is demanding greater transparency from LMB before it’s willing to lift the ban. He also says that the MLBPA is in “lockstep” with Major League Baseball on the matter, which makes sense given that, if MLB’s claims are accurate, players are being exploited here. He also says that if LMB does not change its ways, there is a “Plan B,” though it’s not clear what that is.

There aren’t a ton of Mexican players signed by MLB teams each year, but there are enough to make this a significant issue that is worth watching.