Phillies starter Jake Arrieta had one of the oddest offseasons in recent memory. The 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner wasn’t able to procure a contract until Sunday, 11 days into the month of March. As a result of signing so late, he has missed about four weeks of spring training. As Corey Seidman of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports, however, Arrieta still intends to be ready for the start of the regular season. Arrieta said he has been throwing 50-65 pitch bullpen sessions every two or three days.
Arrieta also said of his conditioning, via Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia, “My body is in tremendous shape. Obviously, I haven’t been in a game yet but I’m a quick learner and I like my chances at getting ready.”
New manager Gabe Kapler reiterated that Aaron Nola will start on Opening Day, something that was announced back on February 25. The Phillies open the season on March 29 in Atlanta against the Braves. Arrieta could pitch the second game on the 30th, or the Phillies could push back his season debut. The Phillies visit the Mets for their second series of the season.
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.