Major League Baseball has instituted a ban on major league teams signing players who are affiliated with teams in Liga Mexicana de Beisbol, better known here as the Mexican League, according to Jeff Passan. Passan says that MLB and the MLBPA have been working to try to fix a situation that is “plagued” by “corruption and fraud,” and with an agreement not being reached yet, there will be no transactions allowed.
For details on the problems, I urge you to click on the link and read Passan’s piece. Players affiliated with Mexican League teams are still subject to the J-2 bonus restrictions that all international players under 25 face, but the Mexican League teams get to keep the lion’s share of the bonus that a player gets. That was the case last year with Damian Mendoza, a Rangers J-2 signee who got a $1 million bonus, of which $750,000 reportedly went to his Mexican League team. Padres third baseman Christian Villanueva was another player originally signed by the Rangers out of the Mexican League.
The international free agent market has long been rife with corruption and, in some cases, such as Leonys Martin, outright criminal activity, and MLB has been trying to take steps to correct some of these issues of late. MLB teams making verbal agreements with players prior to their being eligible to sign is commonplace, and when you read about players being linked to teams, such as in Ben Badler’s preview of the international J-2 signing period opening in less than two weeks that has the Rangers identified as being expected to sign Venezuelan catcher Jose Rodriguez and Ronald Acuna’s younger brother Luisangel Acuna, that’s usually based on indications such an agreement has been reached and is expected to be honored.
The Rangers haven’t been linked, from anything I’ve seen, to any prominent J-2 eligible Mexican League players this coming J-2 period, so this ban may not impact them for now. Hopefully some sort of equitable agreement between the leagues will be reached in the near future.