Sep 22, 2009, 5:29 PM EDT
Three months after signing the 16-year-old outfielder to a record $3.1 million pact, the Cardinals on Tuesday voided Wagner Mateo’s contract, saying he failed his physical based on “pre-existing injuries and physical defects.”
Mateo’s deal was the second-largest ever given to a Latin American teenager and the largest given to a position player. Dominican right-hander Michel Inoa received $4.25 million from the A’s last year.
It was reported by ESPN last week that Wagner had recently underwent several eye examinations to determine if he had a degenerative condition that could jeopardize his future. The results weren’t released, but the assumption is that the Cardinals tried to negotiate a lower bonus for Mateo, failed and then opted to void the deal.
The move could have quite an effect on the Cardinals’ efforts in Latin America for years to come. The Mateo signing was a huge step for an organization that had been quiet in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela of late. Voiding the deal three months after coming to terms will likely make prospects and, more importantly, their handlers wary in the future.
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