3/12/2012 6:34:16 AM
The international scouting community was shocked two weeks ago when the Texas Rangers signed Dominican outfielder Jairo Beras to a $4.5M bonus. They weren't shocked that the Rangers would hand out that sort of money, as Texas is the most prolific spender on the international market right now.
What was shocking, and has since turned into a full scale controversy, is that Beras had previously presented his birthdate as December 25, 1995, which wouldn't make him eligible to sign until July 2, 2012. The Rangers were essentially signing a player that the other 29 teams thought wasn't eligible to sign.
The signing is further impacted by the new international signing rules that go into effect on July 2. After that date, all teams have a the same amount of money to spend over the next calendar year on non-draft eligible international players: $2.9M. Thus no player will be able to get a bonus close to $4.5M.
Major League Baseball has since launched an investigation and will not approve the signing until the investigation is complete.
I was with the group from the Dominican Prospect League yesterday afternoon in a private workout and was told this story about what actually happened and what caused the Rangers to believe Beras was eligible to sign.
In looking into Beras' background, the Rangers discovered that his father was a Nicaraguan who played in Dominican Summer League (undisclosed for what organization) in 1994 and then returned to Nicaragua. They did the math and figured that there was no way that Beras' actual birthdate could be December 25, 1995 as purported. They dug further into the infamously imperfect Dominican record system and found paperwork substantiating an earlier birthdate that would make Beras 17 years old and eligible to sign immediately. So they made him an offer he couldn't refuse.
The Rangers, of course, had no obligation to share this information with anyone else in baseball until after the fact under the current rules.
If that story is indeed true, and I have no reason to doubt it considering the source, it would seem as if the Rangers just outworked everyone else. That doesn't mean that Major League Baseball will approve the signing. But is does mean that all the criticism the Rangers have endured since should be tempered a bit.