Juan Carlos Oviedo finally arrived in the United States today after receiving a travel visa, but it will be a while before he’s pitching for the Marlins again.
Major League Baseball announced this afternoon that Oviedo has been suspended eight weeks for engaging in age and identity fraud. Ovideo, formerly known as Leo Nunez, has been working through legal issues in his Dominican Republic after admitting to falsifying his identity last September. The suspension takes effect immediately and he’ll be eligible to rejoin the Marlins on July 23 against the Braves.
Oviedo saved 92 games for the Marlins from 2009-2011 while posting a 3.86 ERA and solid secondary numbers, but the team signed Heath Bell to a three-year, $32 million contract during the offseason to take over as closer. While that contract hasn’t worked out so well thus far, Bell will likely be given every opportunity to keep his job.
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.