The Pirates are “shopping” outfielder Jose Tabata, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.
Tabata is slated to see regular action in right field, but with top prospect Gregory Polanco waiting in the wings (and playing right field) at Triple-A his time as a starter in Pittsburgh could only be a few more months.
Tabata is just still 25 years old and has been a decent all-around player for the Pirates, including hitting .282 with six homers and a .771 OPS in 106 games last season. However, he’s yet to develop any further since signing a long-term contract extension and no longer looks capable of being a building block type of player.
With three years and $12 million remaining on his contract–plus relatively reasonable team options for 2017, 2018, and 2019–Tabata could draw some trade interest from teams looking to cheaply fill a corner outfield spot. Or the Pirates could wait to see if he gets off to a good start while Polanco plays at Triple-A and try to cash in Tabata for a better return in May or June.
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.