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Yankees sign Neil Walker

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The Yankees have agreed to a one-year, $4 million contract with free agent second baseman Neil Walker. He can earn an additional $1 million in incentives. That’s a massive pay cut for Walker, who accepted the qualifying offer from the Mets last year, paying him $17.2 million.

Walker 32, hit .265/.362/.439 with 14 home runs in 448 PA with the Mets and Brewers last season. While that was a falloff from his 2016, part of his regression can be traced back to a left hamstring strain which landed him on the disabled list for over six weeks in June. All in all he was pretty close to his career norms last year, and saw his production improve after being traded to Milwaukee in August. In nine seasons, Walker has a line of .272/.341/.437 (OPS+ 113). The switch-hitting Walker has slugged considerably higher as a lefty in the course of his career, so the short porch in right field is going to treat him pretty well.

Until this signing, the Yankees had a pretty open competition going for the second and third base slots, with some combination of Tyler Wade, the newly-acquired Brandon Drury, Miguel AndujarRonald Torreyes and top prospect Gleyber Torres all figuring in the mix. While the Yankees envision Torres to be the long-term solution at the keystone, Walker is more of a known quantity for a team that is on a win-now footing. Walker has also played a little third base and first base in his career, so he’ll give manager Aaron Boone a lot of options on his infield.

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.