We’ve heard all sorts of chatter about the Phillies possibly moving impending free agents Cole Hamels or Shane Victorino if GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. decides to become a seller before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, but they aren’t the only players drawing interest from opposing general managers.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reported last night that Reds are among the teams who have expressed interest in outfielder Juan Pierre. Entering today’s action, Reds leadoff hitters rank dead-last in the majors this season in batting average (.201), on-base percentage (.246) and OPS (.562), so GM Walt Jocketty is keeping the phone lines open for an upgrade.
Pierre joined the Phillies on a minor league deal over the winter and is hitting .312/.349/.380 with one home run, 17 RBI and a .730 OPS through 72 games played this season. The 34-year-old outfielder is currently tied for fourth in the majors with 20 stolen bases. If acquired by the Reds, he would likely be used as part of an outfield rotation with Drew Stubbs, Ryan Ludwick and Chris Heisey.
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.