Aroldis Chapman sued for $18 million for … working with the Cuban State Security apparatus?!


Arolids Chapman defected from Cuba, presumably seeking freedom and fortune in the United States.  Someone, however, is suing Chapman, alleging that when he was back in Cuba, he worked with the Cuban State Security apparatus and helped organize the arrest, imprisonment, and torture of a Cuban-American by the name of Danilo Curbelo García.

This report comes from a pair of Miami-based Spanish language papers (here and here) that our friend Nick Collias of MLB Trade Rumors read and translated for us.  Obviously it’s impossible to know the truth behind any of this now, but here is the essence of the lawsuit — filed in U.S. Court pursuant to the Alien Tort Claims Act — which seeks $18 million:

“Chapman conspired with unidentified agents from the repressive State Security and with the Cuban government to violate the established law of nations, and provoke the arbitrary and prolonged detention and torture of the plaintiff [Curbelo Garcia].”  …

Here’s Curbelo Garcia’s wife, Maylén Turruellas Méndez, quoted in the latter report, describing events which allegedly occurred:

“My husband only praised him as an athlete and told him that in the US he could earn millions,” Turruelas explained. “Days later, the police showed up at his parents’ house and told him that he was under investigation. Later, they arrested him. To this day, I’m convinced that Chapman was working with State Security. It’s known that he had a meeting with Raul Castro. My husband isn’t the only one imprisoned because of Chapman. He was the principal witness in the case, and his statement was full of lies. That’s the only way they’d let him return to the Cuban team.”

The family’s lawyer Avelino Gonzalez told Ebro that both Chapman and his father testified in Cuba against Curbelo Garcia, leading to his arrest for “attempted human trafficking.”

The implication is that after Chapman’s original defection attempt, which failed, he informed on Garcia in order to get back on the Cuban national team.

These are obviously explosive allegations.  I’m sure that Chapman, his agent and his attorneys will have something to say about it soon.  In the meantime, stay tuned.

Spending bill could exempt minor leaguers from federal labor laws

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Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post reports that, according to three congressional officials familiar with current talks, an upcoming spending bill could exempt minor leaguers from federal labor laws. This is an issue we have spent some time covering here. A bill proposed in 2016, H.R. 5580, would have amended language in Section 13 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 which would have made it so minor leaguers wouldn’t be protected under a law that protects hourly workers. There is also an ongoing class action lawsuit over unfair labor prospects.

As DeBonis notes, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is among the representatives backing the measure. The provision specifically concerning minor leaguers didn’t appear in any of the draft spending bills, but DeBonis spoke to officials familiar with the negotiations under the condition of anonymity who said it was under serious consideration by top party leaders.

DeBonis got a comment from Minor League Baseball president Pat O’Conner. He said, “We’re not saying that [minor league pay] shouldn’t go up. We’re just saying that the formula of minimum wage and overtime is so incalculable. I would hate to think that a prospect is told, ‘You got to go home because you’re out of hours, you can’t have any extra batting practice.’ It’s those kinds of things. It’s not like factory work. It’s not like work where you can punch a time clock and management can project how many hours they’re going to have to pay for.”

O’Conner said as much in an interview back in December. It’s an extremely disingenuous deflection. O’Conner also said, “I don’t think that minor league baseball is a career choice for a player.” This is all about creating legislation that allows Minor League Baseball to keep money at the top, which is great if you’re a team owner or shareholder. If they could get away with it, every owner of every business would pay its employees as little as possible, which is why it’s important to have unions and people keeping an eye on legislation like this that attempts to strip laborers of their rights in the dead of night.

Minor league players need to unionize. Or, better yet, the MLBPA should open their doors to include minor leaguers and fight for them just as they would a player who has reached the majors. Minor leaguers should be paid a salary with which they do not have to worry about things like rent, electricity, food, and transportation. They should be provided healthcare and a retirement fund. And if anyone tries to tell you it’s not affordable, MLB eclipsed $10 billion in revenues last year. There’s plenty to go around.

The owners are banking on this legislation passing and labor still coming in excess due to young men holding onto the dream of making the major leagues. According to CNN, “far less than 10 percent of minor league players ever get the chance to make it to the major leagues.” Some of these players have forgone college to work in baseball. They arrive at the park in the morning and leave late at night, putting in far more than your standard eight-hour work day. Since their bodies are their vehicle for success, they have to exercise regularly and vigorously off the field while maintaining a healthy diet. (And teams are still reluctant to invest even the smallest amount of money to ensure their young players eat well.) Minor leaguers make tremendous sacrifices to pursue their dream and now Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying Congress to legalize taking further advantage of them.