Dominican player involved in identity fraud flap, rewarded with 65 times greater signing bonus

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A strange tale from the pages of Baseball America.  The basics:

  • Dominican prospect Juan Carlos Paniagua signs a deal with the Diamondbacks for $17,000. The deal is conditional while a background check takes place;
  • After pitching for the Dbacks developmental team for a spell under the conditional arrangement, the contract is rejected by Major League Baseball and Paniaqua is suspended because of fraudulent paperwork regarding his age and identity;
  • While he’s in paperwork/suspension limbo, Paniaqua fills out and adds 5-6 m.p.h. to his fastball;
  • Because of the voided deal, he becomes a free agent after his paperwork is cleared up, the Yankees sign him for $1.1 million.

Click through and read the story to see how this all came about. From where I’m sitting, the Diamondbacks kind of got boned by virtue of there being no mechanism by which they could retain the rights to a guy they may very well have wanted to keep once the paperwork was sorted out.  After all, it was Major League Baseball — and not the Dbacks — who decided that Paniaqua was a free agent.  And that worked to the Yankees’ benefit. As if they needed the benefit.

A new rule has been proposed to deal with this that gives the club in the Dbacks’ position a right of first refusal if it happens again.  Of course, that won’t help Arizona cope any better if and when Paniaqua becomes a stud for the Yankees.

Rougned Odor received two horses as part of his contract extension with Rangers

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Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor reached an agreement with the Rangers on a six-year, $49.5 million contract extension. It was announced on Saturday and finalized on Thursday. The contract is pretty typical — a signing bonus, escalating salaries each year — except for one thing: Odor received two elite horses as well, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports.

Here are those horses, per Jared Sandler of 1053 The Fan:

Players do sometimes get perks as part of their contracts. Usually it’s mundane stuff like extra game tickets for family and friends, use of a suite, limo rides, or plane tickets. Sometimes they can get rather specific. For example, in 2005, Troy Glaus got $250,000 per year in “personal business expenses” from the Diamondbacks, which was for his wife’s equestrian training. Hall of Famer George Brett got a 10 percent stake in an apartment complex in Memphis when he signed an extension with the Royals in the mid-1980’s. But as far as my research was able to go, no one received any horses, so that’s new.

Of course, the Rangers certainly think Odor is worth the perks. Last season, Odor hit .271/.296/.502 with 33 home runs, 88 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases in 632 plate appearances. And at just 23 years old, he has plenty of room to improve.

Mariners sign Mark Lowe

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The Mariners have signed reliever Mark Lowe, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports. The Tigers released him on Sunday.

Lowe, 33, is entering the last of a two-year, $11 million deal signed with the Tigers in December 2015. The right-hander struggled to a 7.11 ERA with a 49/21 K/BB ratio in 49 1/3 innings last season. His performance this spring didn’t do much to inspire confidence.

Lowe began his major league career with the Mariners, breaking out in 2009 with a 3.26 ERA across 80 innings. He has been inconsistent throughout most of his 11-year big league career, however.