We recently saw an agent get arrested on human trafficking charges arising out of his smuggling players out of Cuba. As we noted, the business of getting Cuban defectors to free agency is a shady and dangerous one, made all the more risky by incentives and disincentives in place which push the players and/or their representatives to deal with criminals.
The pattern of these cases is not always the same, however. While in some cases the agent is in bed with the bad actors, in other cases the agent is a victim. According to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of Fox, such is the case with Charles Hairston, who just quit as the agent for Cuban outfielder Lazaro Armenteros, claiming that his life was threatened by the buscon who is working with Lazarito in the Dominican Republic. Lazarito was expected to have signed earlier this month, but remains on the market.
The details of the story are, as almost all of these stories of international signings, rather murky. And they cross over from the stories we’ve seen about other Cuban players into the world of buscones, whose work in the Dominican Republic is likewise controversial.
In light of stories like these, do not be at all surprised if Major League Baseball renews its push for an international draft as a means of heading off such incidents. Such a move may or may not work and Major League Baseball has ulterior financial incentives for imposing a draft on players who would now be foreign free agents, but the league will, without question, cite stories such as these in support of its case.