On Tuesday, Major League Baseball and Mexico’s Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (LMB) agreed to a new posting system to allow MLB teams to sign players out of Mexico. The agreement ends an eight-month standoff between the two leagues.
Major League Baseball had banned all transactions with LMB last July, citing corruption and fraud. LMB teams would often sign players as young as 15 to professional contracts and then insist upon up to 75 percent of any signing bonus that the player might get from an MLB team down the line. Some MLB team, most notably the Cubs, used this loophole to get around the penalties on signing bonuses since only the amount of money the player received (and not the total amount of bonus money paid) counted towards the international bonus limits created in the last few collective bargaining agreements.
In fact, the Cubs had their deal with Mexican right-handed pitcher Florencio Serrano voided by MLB because a side deal between the player and his LMB team emerged that would have violated the limits on bonuses that the Cubs had for going over the bonus pool limit in previous years. (To be clear, there were no allegations that the Cubs had done anything wrong in this case.)
The new system is similar to the agreements that MLB has with Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), Korea’s Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) and the Cuban Baseball Federation (FCB).
Under the terms of the agreement, any player who is 25 years old or older and has at least six years of experience in LMB (or a total of six years along with any other foreign league) shall be a free agent, eligible to sign with any MLB team. Additionally, LMB teams are allowed to “post” players younger than that and receive a percentage of their signing bonus. That percentage will be 35 percent if they sign a minor league contact and 15 percent of any major league contract.
This agreement ends the ban on signing Mexican baseball players. The Cubs had been one of the most active teams signing Mexican players in recent years, including Luis Verdugo, Jose Albertos and the since-traded Isaac Paredes. I would expect that the Cubs will continue to mine LMB for baseball talent. Perhaps they will sign Serrano again, who remains a free agent since his deal with the Cubs was voided.
The English version of the complete press release is as follows: