Chase Utley said yesterday’s game at Double-A “went really well” and the Phillies apparently believed him, activating the second baseman from the disabled list just two days into a minor-league rehab assignment.
Utley went 0-for-9 at Double-A after spending a month on the DL with an oblique injury, so it’s certainly a hastened return timetable. To make room on the roster the Phillies optioned Michael Martinez back to Triple-A.
Utley was looking more or less like his old self before the injury, hitting .272 with seven homers and an .814 OPS in 44 games, and he even stole five bases.
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.