According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram the Rangers have signed catcher Yorvit Torrealba to a two-year, $6.25 million contract, which almost surely means Bengie Molina won’t be back in Texas.
Torrealba is five years younger than Molina and represents an upgrade offensively. Over the past two seasons Torrealba has hit .279 with a .725 OPS, compared to Molina hitting .258 with a .682, and the difference between them is especially huge when it comes to getting on base. Torrealba posted a .346 on-base percentage during that time, compared to a ghastly .290 OBP from Molina.
And while Molina has the superior defensive reputation, Torrealba threw out a higher percentage of steal attempts this season and they’re both right around 30 percent for their careers. Torrealba is also merely really slow, rather than the slowest player in the history of baseball, so the Rangers upgrade their team speed too.
Molina was acquired from the Giants at midseason because the Rangers were desperate for help behind the plate after none of their young catchers of the future panned out. He was a fine stop-gap pickup thanks to some postseason heroics, but signing Torrealba to a reasonable two-year deal is a smart move for the defending AL champs.
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.