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Report: Jake Arrieta expected to sign with a team this week

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Bob Nightengale of USA Today says that free agent right-hander Jake Arrieta is expected to sign with a team “in the next couple of days.” It sounds like several clubs are still in the mix, though the Phillies remain the frontrunner for Arrieta’s services. It’s not yet clear if the club has come around to the idea of a four- or five-year contract or if Arrieta has lowered his asking price in hopes of securing a deal before Opening Day.

Neither Arrieta nor fellow free agent right-hander Alex Cobb have found landing spots so far this spring. With the plethora of free agents signing short-term contracts for well under perceived market value, it seems fairly likely that both pitchers will be forced to adjust their initial expectations, either by signing long-term deals for less money or taking shorter deals with a higher average annual value. It doesn’t help, of course, that Opening Day looms just 18 days away, putting extra pressure on both players and teams to reach less-than-ideal arrangements sooner rather than later.

The Padres, Nationals and Phillies have all been connected to Arrieta over the last month or so, but no concrete offers seem to have materialized lately. Last week, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports observed that the Padres were having “internal discussions” about the 32-year-old right-hander, though he added that signing Arrieta might be a long shot as the club is reportedly looking for a bargain deal and already has a bevy of young pitchers to look at in camp. The Nationals aren’t thought to be seriously considering Arrieta either, especially after discussions with agent Scott Boras went south several months ago. That leaves the Phillies (and any other dark-horse candidates), who have both the cash and the roster space to make a deal work — assuming the two can find some middle ground, that is.

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.