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Dominican trainer says the Yankees reneged on an offer to a 16-year-old player

Aug 4, 2014, 11:03 AM EDT

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Ben Badler of Baseball America has an interesting story about a complaint raised by a trainer/agent in the Dominican Republic. He says the Yankees had an agreement to sign his 16-year-old client, Christopher Torres, in June for $2.1 million. And that, indeed, the agreement to sign him come June was reached late last year. Then June 2 came around, the Yankees didn’t sign him, every other team’s bonus pool money was dried up and now Torres is in limbo.

The Yankees deny this, saying that while there were discussions, no offer was ever made. The team simply changed its mind and moved on. Worth noting, however, the MLB had a recent meeting with the Yankees about all of this. No one is talking about it, but it’s possible that someone somewhere thinks the Yankees violated the norms of the signing period.

But apart to Torres himself, the dispute itself is not as interesting for what happened here specifically, but for what it shows us about how international signings work in the capped bonus era.

Teams and teenagers reach handshake agreements — or maybe just nods across a room — months in advance. When they do, it gets disseminated through baseball, causing other teams to back off. This dance is happening earlier and earlier because of the limited amount of money MLB allows teams to spend on international free agents these days. Everyone needs to plan more and plan in advance. When teams’ plans change, however, the kids are the ones left with few options.

Some say the solution to all of this is an international draft. Others say that going back to a system where teams are not so severely limited on signing bonuses is the answer. I fall in the latter camp. Ask yourself: if the Yankees truly were high enough on this kid to offer him big dollars, might another team want to swoop in if he became available? They can’t, though, because by then they’re already tapped out.

It’s rough out there. The international signing game is full of crazy incentives and unfortunate stories like this.

  1. Bob Loblaw - Aug 4, 2014 at 11:21 AM

    Scumbag Yankees reneged on a deal, and this article is about changing the way the system works? Why isn’t it about the dirty way the Yankees broke a promise to this poor 16 year old kid?

    • Rich Stowe - Aug 4, 2014 at 11:30 AM

      do you really think the Yankees are the only team doing this? chances are it happens all the time, just not to “prospects” at this talent level (normally probably happens a lot to “lesser” talents)…

      • Rich Stowe - Aug 4, 2014 at 11:30 AM

        which is why the system needs to change

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Aug 4, 2014 at 11:30 AM

      Why should the Yankees honor a deal when the kid stopped working out for eight months, put on a bunch of weight, and hurt his shoulder so bad he couldn’t even make the throw from ss?

      • Bob Loblaw - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:34 PM

        Trolling Yankees fans. Its faaaaaaaantastic

    • pete2112 - Aug 4, 2014 at 11:37 AM

      Simmer down. It’s not the first time nor the last time something like this happens.

    • 4cornersfan - Aug 4, 2014 at 11:42 AM

      Blah! Blah! Blah! Another Yankee hater going off on some unverified claim by a sports agent of all people.

      • uyf1950 - Aug 4, 2014 at 12:25 PM

        You hit the nail on the head. That’s exactly the point, my friend.

    • ahrmon - Aug 4, 2014 at 2:01 PM

      “Trolling Yankees fans. Its faaaaaaaantastic”

      Having your Mom bring you Hot Pockets to the basement for dinner, and then yelling at her for not getting “the kind you like”. It’s faaaaaaaantastic.

  2. norvturnersneck - Aug 4, 2014 at 11:23 AM

    It’s not rough out there when you hear what they’re signing for and what regular Joe’s in their country make.

    • DJ MC - Aug 4, 2014 at 12:35 PM

      Except he didn’t sign, possibly because a team screwed him over. Which is the whole point.

  3. clydeserra - Aug 4, 2014 at 11:34 AM

    Scumbag owners and current players selling out everyone.

  4. 4cornersfan - Aug 4, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    “The MLB had a recent meeting with the Yankees about all of this. No one is talking about it, but it’s possible that someone somewhere thinks the Yankees violated the norms of the signing period.”
    Anything is possible. It’s more likely that the agent complained to MLB and they looked into it and met to get the Yankee’s story. The Yankees are not cheap and they tend to treat their players, prospects and former players very well. If the agent’s claim is true it would be very out of character for the organization.

    • Glenn - Aug 4, 2014 at 12:53 PM

      Not out of character for any large organization when the rules have changed and money becomes an issue for an entity formally unconcerned about what used to be pocket change for them. To be fair to the Yankees, the new rules were put in place specifically to hamper big money teams like the Yankees, but it sounds like it hurts the low men on the totem pole more.

  5. chip56 - Aug 4, 2014 at 11:44 AM

    This is far from the only problem with the International FA system as highlighted by the fact that Jim Bowden and Jose Rijo were skimming bonus money from these players when they worked for the Nationals.

    • Kevin S. - Aug 4, 2014 at 4:45 PM

      Seriously, how is Jim Bowden gainfully employed at this time?

      • chip56 - Aug 5, 2014 at 9:51 AM

        Because ESPN is a joke.

  6. 4cornersfan - Aug 4, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    The real question is why sports teams are permitted to sign contracts with 16 year old kids. I am sure that the agents are doing a great job looking out for their welfare.

  7. jfk69 - Aug 4, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    Kid…you need a new agent.
    Free life lesson
    One in hand is worth 2 million in the bush

  8. tfbuckfutter - Aug 4, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    I’d like to see an international draft if for no other reason than it can funnel higher quality, closer to MLB ready talent to the clubs that actually need it.

    And, worse case the Tanakas and Abreus get flipped to better teams for quality prospects.

    I know a lot of people hate the draft process altogether because of the labor issues, and I don’t disagree with that, but if you want the draft to go away you have to instill a salary cap to level the field. And most people don’t like that idea either. So where is the middle ground to keep low-revenue teams competitive and keep high revenue teams from buying up even more of the top tier talent internationally and domestically?

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Aug 4, 2014 at 3:44 PM

      I’d like to see an international draft if for no other reason than it can funnel higher quality, closer to MLB ready talent to the clubs that actually need it.

      This is a red herring. For one, most of the players signed in the J2 period are 16 years old. You may end up with a rare Julio Arias, but even he’s at least a year away (at 17). Most of these guys don’t even make top 100 prospect lists, let alone succeed in MLB. Also, not every big name international FA makes it to the top

      As for the big name int FA’s, remember that while the Dodgers got Puig and the Yanks got Tanaka, the Reds signed Chapman, A’s Cespedes, Chi Sox Abreu…

      • tfbuckfutter - Aug 4, 2014 at 3:52 PM

        I’d like to see all the players have to go through the same channels to make their way to a team.

        There is still a huge imbalance because of the international system. Not just because the big teams can usually win the bidding wars on the big name free agents, but because they can also out spend in scouting those reserves, reducing their risk of a miss or turning up players other teams may not.

        I just want the playing field leveled. And I’m saying that as a fan of a big market team.

  9. beachnbaseball - Aug 4, 2014 at 2:52 PM

    The agent says he had an oral agreement for $2.1M. So the kid thinks he had it made. So he stopped practicing and playing baseball and instead sat around watching TV and eating and gaining weight. He got out of shape and his skills deteriorated and he injured his elbow to the point where he couldn’t throw a ball from SS to 1B.

    Yankees vice president Mark Newman denied that the Yankees ever had a deal in place with Torres, a switch-hitter. It’s really simple,” Newman said. “We scouted the guy, we worked him out, we talked to the agent, we talked to the family. We did not make an offer. We did not sign the guy and we did not have an offer. We talked about various levels of interest on our part and their part, but there was never any offer.”

    After a workout, the Mariner’s offered the kid $1.6M but his agent turned it down. He probably told the kid he’d get him more but he failed. So now the complaint is filed.

  10. uscthom78 - Aug 4, 2014 at 2:56 PM

    Shouldn’t be surprise….Yankees organization has well earned reputation for being an organization that lacks characters, morals and ethics.

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Aug 4, 2014 at 3:16 PM

      Posts from a USC handle, and accuses others of lacking character, ethics or morals. That’s rich…

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