I hope you’re sitting down for this major news, but if you’re not, at least try to brace yourself: the Red Sox have picked up Chris Sale‘s $12.5 million option for 2018.
Sale should finish high in the 2017 American League Cy Young balloting after posting a 2.90 ERA and a 308/43 K/BB ratio over 214.1 innings this season. At $12.5 million he’s a steal. Even if he falls off big from that next season, his 2019 option at $13.5 million is just as much of a steal.
The Red Sox also picked up closer Craig Kimbrel‘s $13 million option for 2018. Kimbrel was one of the top closers in baseball this year, posting a 1.43 ERA, and an outstanding 126/14 K/BB ratio in 69 innings and notching 35 saves. Kimbrel can become a free agent next winter.
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.