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.

Aaron Judge out of Yankees starting lineup for finale after No. 62

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Yankees slugger Aaron Judge wasn’t in the starting lineup for New York’s regular-season finale, a day after his 62nd home run that broke Roger Maris’ 61-year-old American League single-season record.

When Judge homered in the first inning Tuesday night, in the second game of a doubleheader against the Texas Rangers, it was his 55th consecutive game. He has played in 157 games overall for the AL East champions.

With the first-round bye in the playoffs, the Yankees won’t open postseason play until the AL Division Series starts next Tuesday.

Even though Judge had indicated that he hoped to play Wednesday, manager Aaron Boone said after Tuesday night’s game that they would have a conversation and see what made the most sense.

“Short conversation,” Boone said before Wednesday’s game, adding that he was “pretty set on probably giving him the day today.”

Asked if there was a scenario in which Judge would pinch hit, Boone responded, “I hope not.”

Judge went into the final day of the regular season batting .311, trailing American League batting average leader Minnesota’s Luis Arraez, who was hitting .315. Judge was a wide leader in the other Triple Crown categories, with his 62 homers and 131 RBIs.

Boone said that “probably the one temptation” to play Judge had been the long shot chance the slugger had to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012.