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Indians pick up Michael Brantley’s 2018 option

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We’ve posted a lot about option pickups in the past day or two. Most of them have some variation of “no surprise here” in them because they’ve been pretty easy choices for the teams involved. Low money deals for good players for the most part.

This one is a bit less of an easy call: the Indians exercised Michael Brantley‘s $12 million option.

It’s not a given because Brantley has played in just 101 games over the last two seasons and had major ankle surgery last month. When healthy he has hit — he posted a decent line of .299/.357/.444 in 90 games this past season — but at this point he may not even be ready to begin spring training on time, throwing his 2018 value into question.

Still, he’s a clubhouse leader, one of the longest-tenured Indians and, if healthy, could be a solid contributor next year, so the club is taking a chance.

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.