The Marlins signed Rafael Furcal to a one-year, $3.5 million deal over the winter with the idea of using him as their regular second baseman and leadoff hitter, but he has yet to make his season debut due to injury. And now it looks like the wait will be even longer.
Furcal, who was forced to begin the year on the disabled list with a hamstring strain, suffered a groin strain last Friday during his first attempt at a minor league rehab assignment. While the 36-year-old returned to action last night with Double-A Jacksonville, Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that he exited after four innings after reporting renewed groin discomfort.
“He’s super frustrated,” said Suns’ manager Andy Barkett, who has known Furcal for 15 years and was one of his Dominican winter ball teammates. “I’m doing all I can and he’s doing all he can. His body is just not cooperating with him right now.
Furcal went 1-for-2 with a single before exiting. He’s scheduled to be reevaluated today.
The Marlins have relied on multiple players at second base with Furcal on the shelf, including Derek Dietrich, Donovan Solano, Jeff Baker, and Ed Lucas. While they have combined for an underwhelming .214/.325/.311 batting line, they rank first in the National League with 19 runs scored and are tied for fifth with 13 RBI.
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.