Nationals “remain in the mix” for righty Carl Pavano

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The Nationals made a run at free agent southpaw Cliff Lee before he signed with the Phillies.  They also tried for right-hander Zack Greinke before the Royals dealt him to the Brewers.

The free agent market is mostly a scrap heap by now, but one top free agent pitcher remains and the Nationals are doing their best to bring him in.

According to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson, Washington remains “in the mix” for Carl Pavano, who is expected to decide on a team within the next week or two.

Pavano, 34, posted a 3.75 ERA and 1.19 WHIP across 32 starts this past season for the Twins.  He struck out 117 batters and walked only 33, amassing a six-year high 221 innings.

The Cubs, Brewers and Rangers have also expressed varying levels of interest and Minnesota may look into re-signing him if his price drops low enough.  At the moment, the right-hander is thought to be seeking a three-year contract worth between $10-$11 million annually.

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.