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Dusty Baker will not return as Nationals manager

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The Washington Nationals just announced that Dusty Baker will not return as the club’s manager in 2018.

Baker led the Nationals to a record of 192-132 and two National League East titles in his two seasons as manager. He also seemed to be the preferred choice of General Manager Mike Rizzo. Indeed, Bob Nightengale of USA Today says that Baker’s dismissal comes against Rizzo’s wishes.

It’s just the latest of a series of firings of Baker following a run of undeniable on-filed success. Baker took over a Nats team that was underachieving and roiled by clubhouse acrimony and won 95 and 97 games in his two seasons. Before that he took a long suffering Cincinnati Reds team to three 90+ win seasons and three playoff appearances in six seasons. He spent 2014 and 2015 out of baseball, in fact, as clubs found it preferable to hire men with no coaching or managerial experience. Indeed, when the Nats hired him, it came as something of a surprise.

The Nationals exited in the first round of the postseason both this year and last, so one might argue that Baker, somehow, was unable to take them to the next level and that someone new is required. Such arguments, however, would be pretty daft given the random nature of short postseason series and the fact that Baker was not the guy holding a bat or throwing a ball in those postseason losses. Indeed, the Nationals have made the postseason with three different managers and neither of the other two made it out of the Division Series either.

In light of that, how this falls on Baker I have no idea. I would hope and expect team ownership to explain why it does.

Report: Major League Baseball bans transactions with Mexican League teams

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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.