Lost in all of the Hall of Fame hubbub is a story that has some pretty big implications for baseball on-the-field:
An influential baseball scout who was arrested in the Dominican Republic on Tuesday allegedly gave new identities to his players to make them appear younger – and therefore more appealing to major league teams – to obtain professional contracts.
Victor Baez was charged by Dominican authorities with fraud and falsifying documents. A press statement released by Dominican police said the arrest represents a crackdown on scouts who use fraudulent documents, visas and passports to obtain commissions from players’ contracts.
We first started hearing a lot of stories about age-falsification following immigration restrictions imposed post-9/11. It’s not likely that the problem has gone away, however. After all, to avoid detecting of phony documents by immigration people, one need only get fake foreign documents earlier so that they appear to be more legitimate. The arrest of Baez shows that the practice is still flourishing.
The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.
Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.
Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.