The MLBPA is looking into the Ben Wetzler case

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Last week it was revealed that the Phillies reported Oregon State pitcher Ben Wetzler to the NCAA for using an agent in negotiations with the Phillies after being drafted last summer. Wetzler was suspended for 20 percent of his senior year as a result. The Phillies have received considerable backlash from the report, as reporting the use of agents by amateurs is highly irregular among major league teams.

Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that the MLBPA is looking into the matter. Quotes from union president Tony Clark:

“The interest is the same we would have in the draft in general,” Clark said. “These guys are connected to our institution. We have some input to the rules and the dynamics (of the draft) and that’s why anything related to it we have a concern about it or a commitment to pay attention to it.

“To that extent, we are gathering information as we speak. Yes, we are concerned. Based on what we find out will determine what, if anything, lends itself to further discussion, but we are concerned enough to be inquiring.”

I’m glad someone is inquiring, though it remains to be seen what if anything the union could do about it. Yes, they have input on the draft. But they have also routinely sold out players subject to the draft in exchange for furthering the interests of major leaguers. That’s why there’s slotting now. If the MLBPA truly advocated for draftees, they would have never agreed to that.

The real danger here is teams using threats of reporting players to the NCAA in order to coerce them to sign on unfavorable terms. That’s something Major League Baseball should be looking into, not just the MLBPA.

Astros acquire Aledmys Díaz from Blue Jays

Aledmys Diaz
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The Astros have acquired shortstop Aledmys Díaz from the Blue Jays in exchange for minor league right-hander Trent Thornton, the teams announced Saturday.

Díaz, 28, was originally acquired by the Blue Jays last winter in a swap for minor leaguer J.B. Woodman. He spent the entirety of his 2018 campaign in Toronto, where he slashed .263/.303/.453 with a .756 OPS and career-best 18 home runs through 452 plate appearances. While Díaz spent the bulk of his year filling in for an injured Troy Tulowitzki at short, he has experience at second and third base and may prove useful to the Astros as an extra outfield option, too.

Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Díaz will serve as protection if the Astros lose shortstop/utility player Marwin González to free agency this winter. González did not receive a qualifying offer from the club this month and has reportedly drawn interest from 29 of 30 clubs in the league.

Thornton, 25, was selected by the Astros during the fifth round of the 2015 draft. The right-hander was promoted to Triple-A Fresno in 2017 and has been up-and-down since then, though 2018 saw some modest improvements across the board as he turned in a 9-8 record through 22 starts with a 4.42 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 through 124 1/3 innings. He was one of several minor league players the Astros would have needed to protect in advance of the Rule 5 Draft on Tuesday.