No doubt sick of waiting for Adam LaRoche to accept multi-year offers that have been on the table for weeks now the Orioles have moved on to Plan B at first base, with Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reporting that they’ve agreed to terms on a one-year deal with Derrek Lee.
And ultimately the Orioles are probably better off that LaRoche dragged his feet. Instead of making a multi-year commitment to a non-elite first baseman they’ll see what Lee has left in the tank for a year and reevaluate things next offseason when several big name first basemen may be on the market.
Plus, there’s a strong chance Lee will be better than LaRoche in 2011 anyway. Lee is coming off arguably the worst season of his career, yet his .774 OPS is basically the same as the .788 OPS posted by LaRoche. Age and health are also factors, but Lee is one season removed from an MVP-caliber performance and has a half-dozen seasons in his track record superior to LaRoche’s best years.
As for LaRoche, this seemingly sets him up to sign with the Nationals, who were also in the mix for Lee.
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.