From Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports comes word that the Mariners are “in on” free agent reliever Fernando Rodney, joining the Mets and the Orioles in the three-team hunt for the 36-year-old right-hander.
Rodney wasn’t nearly as dominant in 2013 as he was in 2012, but he still saved 37 games for the Rays and averaged a career-high 96.5 mph on his fastball while striking out 82 batters in 66 2/3 innings.
Rodney is likely seeking a multi-year contract. If the Mariners sign him, they’ll presumably push projected closer Danny Farquhar into a setup role and make Rodney their primary ninth-inning man. Spring training gets underway in a little over two weeks.
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.