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Report: Cubs close to adding Jim Hickey as pitching coach

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Update (7:17 PM ET): It’s official, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

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Patrick Mooney of NBC Sports Chicago reports that the Cubs are close to a deal with Jim Hickey to make him the new pitching coach. The Cubs today also announced Chili Davis as the new hitting coach and Brian Butterfield as the third base coach, while promoting Andy Haines to assistant hitting coach.

Hickey, 56, had been the Rays’ pitching coach since the 2007 season, but the club decided to part ways with him earlier this month. They named Kyle Snyder as the new pitching coach.

Hickey is well regarded around the league, so it’s no surprise that it took him less than a month to find employment elsewhere. He’ll work with a very successful pitching staff that will lose Jake Arrieta to free agency.

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.