Mets, Mariners among Smoltz's early suitors

Leave a comment

A source told FOXSports.com that the Cardinals, Dodgers, Mets, Mariners, Astros, Rangers and Orioles have expressed early interest in free agent John Smoltz.
That there are three AL clubs in the group of seven teams is a bit of a surprise. It figured that the interest in Smoltz would be mostly concentrated among NL teams, given that Smoltz went 2-5 with an 8.32 ERA in eight starts for the Red Sox last season. He was 1-3 with a 4.26 ERA in seven starts for St. Louis.
The report indicates that Smoltz is open to the possibility of returning to closing duties next year. That may just be an effort to give him more bargaining power, though. Smoltz has always preferred starting, and he seems more likely to hold up physically working every five or six days than he would given a reliever’s workload. Plus, it’s a lot easier to sneak in a round of golf when you know exactly when you’ll be pitching.
So, while Smoltz will weigh all offers, his best chance of adding to his Cooperstown resume would come as a starter in the National League. A return to St. Louis would make a lot of sense, given pitching coach Dave Duncan’s track record with veteran starters. The Dodgers, Cubs and Brewers could use him as well.

Report: Major League Baseball bans transactions with Mexican League teams

Getty Images
7 Comments

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.