Free agent outfielder Rajai Davis has reunited with the Indians, per a team announcement on Saturday. Davis has agreed to a minor league contract and is attending camp on a non-roster invite.
Davis is only two years removed from his last gig with the Indians, when he helped fuel the team’s pennant chase in 2016. He split his 2017 campaign with the Athletics and Red Sox, but wasn’t able to replicate the numbers that made his performance so memorable in Cleveland. The 37-year-old outfielder slashed a combined .235/.293/.348 with five home runs and 29 stolen bases in 366 plate appearances for the two clubs.
The Indians already have an established outfield trio with Michael Brantley, Bradley Zimmer and Lonnie Chisenhall, though Brantley’s ankle injuries may keep him out of the lineup for the next several weeks. Corner outfielder Brandon Guyer is also currently sidelined after undergoing surgery on his left wrist. MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian notes that Jason Kipnis is in line to slot in for Brantley, while Davis and fellow non-roster invitee Melvin Upton Jr. are expected to provide backup and platoon options in the outfield if they can’t secure full-time roles.
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.