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

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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.

Rays stadium project dead, team stuck in Tropicana Field until 2027

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LAS VEGAS — Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg appeared at the Winter Meetings a few minutes ago and said that the project which was intended to result in a new ballpark for the team in Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa has fallen apart. No new ballpark will be built and the three-year window granted to the team by the City of St. Petersburg to negotiate for a new ballpark will come to a close without any deal. The Tampa Bay Rays appear to be stuck in Tropicana Field through 2027.

Sternberg’s statement came mere hours after it was reported that Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred sent a sternly-worded letter to Hillsborough County officials, blasting the framework for the deal for the new stadium in Ybor City, saying it lacked specifics and criticized “the actual level commitment” from the public side. It’s not unreasonable to read that as the Commissioner’s dissatisfaction with how much public money the County was pledging to complete the project. Sternberg said just now that “we were not close to a workable framework.”

In his comments this morning Sternberg noted that the Rays had worked “for ten years” to get a new stadium and that they’d continue to try to work to that end, but the team’s options are extremely limited. The Rays are party to what has been described as an iron-clad lease for Tropicana Field, lasting through 2027. Until three years ago the Rays were  prohibited from even talking to anyone about building a new ballpark outside of St. Petersburg. In December 2015 St. Pete granted the team a window to negotiate with Hillsborough County which Sternberg called “very generous.” It is now closing, however, and Sternberg said that there are no plans to ask St. Petersburg officials for a new one.

Which means that the Rays are likely stuck in Tropicana Field through 2027. While Sternberg talked of being creative and searching for any and all available options, he likewise said that “we need to figure out where the 2028 season will be played.”