The Cleveland Indians just announced that outfielder Michael Brantley underwent arthroscopic ankle surgery yesterday, aimed at stabilizing ligaments. He’s expected to be able to resume baseball activities in 4-5 months, which is likely to delay the beginning of his 2018 season.
Brantley only played in 90 games for the Indians in 2017, sitting out most of August and all of September, but returning for the postseason. He injured the ankle in a game against the Rockies on August 8 and it never did get quite right, as his 1-for-11 line in the ALDS suggested. On the season as a whole Brantley hit .299/.357/.444 with nine homers and 52 driven in.
Brantley’s contract expires with the 2017 season, but there is a 2018 team option at a relatively reasonable $11 million. While he has only played 101 games in the past two seasons combined due to injuries, his strong performance from 2012-2015, and his status as a team leader, will likely lead the Indians to exercise that option.
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.