Angels trying to trade for a new closer?

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From Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe comes word that the Angels have “inquired” about A’s closer Grant Balfour, Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan and Mariners closer Brandon League, with Cafardo calling Balfour the “most logical” fit because Oakland’s asking price should be the lowest.

Jordan Walden earned Rookie of the Year votes in the American League last year after registering a 2.98 ERA and 32 saves across 60 1/3 innings. But the 24-year-old right-hander has surrendered five hits, four walks and five earned runs in just 4 1/3 frames this year, prompting Anaheim to turn to veteran left-hander Scott Downs for interim ninth-inning duties.

And now the 7-14 Angels might take it a step further by bringing in an option from the outside.

Balfour, 34, has posted a superb 1.38 ERA, 0.62 WHIP and 10/3 K/BB ratio in 13 innings this year as the A’s stopper. He’s earning a $4 million salary this season and carries a $4.5 million club option for 2013.

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.