Ryan Roberts was told that the move to designate him for assignment this afternoon was a prelude to a trade, and the deal got done tonight, as the versatile veteran is on his way to Tampa Bay in exchange for minor league infielder Tyler Bortnick.
The Rays were looking for inexpensive infield help and got it here, as Roberts is due a bit less than $900,000 over the rest of the year. He’ll likely see plenty of action at third base until Evan Longoria returns before sliding into more of a utility role.
It will be interesting to see who gets dropped to make room for Roberts. Brooks Conrad is still the likely choice, but he hit a big two-run homer to help the Rays beat the Orioles 3-1 on Tuesday. Hideki Matsui has yet to contribute much of anything as an outfielder/designated hitter, so the Rays could drop him instead.
Bortnick, 25, was hitting .253/.352/.385 with four homers and 23 steals in 348 at-bats for Double-A Montgomery this season. He’s a long shot to make it as a utilityman in the majors. Mostly, the Diamondbacks were just happy to save some money here.
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.