Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic recently did a deep dive into the company known as Big League Advance, whose business model involves lump sum payments to minor-leaguers in exchange for a percentage of their future earnings. MLBTR readers might best know BLA as the company entrenched in a legal battle with top prospect Francisco Mejia of the Indians. Rosenthal’s piece goes into detail far beyond Mejia alone, and he notes at one point that BLA claims to have recently signed its 100th player. Players such as Fernando Tatis Jr. and Jose Osuna have benefitted from the lump sum payments BLA offers; the former is using the money to invest in his health, nutrition and conditioning, while the latter claims the money allows him to focus on baseball by reducing the stress of wondering how he’ll support his family. Others around baseball, however, claim that BLA uses predatory tactics to pressure young players into giving up significant money on the whole; indeed they’ve admitted to intentionally bypassing agents to talk with players directly. It seems that the major focus of Rosenthal’s piece is the upside and downside of BLA’s presence in baseball. My biggest takeaway from reading the piece is that there ought to be a serious discussion in the near future about how (or if) MLB ought to be involved in regulating companies like BLA.
More from around the league…
- It was widely assumed that Scott Kingery’s surprise extension and resulting presence on the Phillies’ MLB roster would sap at least some playing time from incumbent second baseman Cesar Hernandez. That hasn’t been the case, as MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki points out. Hernandez has actually started 18 of 19 games for the club this season, and while Kingery is a second baseman by trade, he’s played that position just twice so far at the MLB level. Instead, he’s spent time at shortstop, third and right field. Zolecki posits that while Hernandez may have seemed like an obvious trade deadline candidate at the season’s outset, it’s now difficult to see the Phillies dealing him due to his offensive impact and the uncertainty surrounding Maikel Franco and J.P. Crawford. Manager Gabe Kapler’s comments certainly strengthen that line of thinking: “We knew how Cesar’s track record suggested that he’s one of the better second baseman in baseball,” he said. “And now we’re blessed to see it every single day. It’s really exciting to look out there and see a guy that consistent. It’s really nice for a manager to have Cesar at the top of the lineup.”
- Mike Napoli’s season-ending surgery obviously doesn’t necessarily mean the end of his career. But Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal has some interesting comments from Terry Francona suggesting that he believes Napoli (who was playing with the Indians’ Triple-A affiliate prior to the injury) will be an excellent coach if and when the time comes for him to hang up his spikes. “I’m not saying he’s done playing, I just mean if he chooses to start to be on this side of the field, my guess is he’ll be even better than he was as a player,” Francona said. It’s certainly a fair point; Napoli is well-known for his clubhouse leadership, and especially in Cleveland during their 2016 playoff run.