A little less than a month ago, the Rangers triggered one of the bigger controversies over an international amateur player that we've seen in the last few years, as their signing of hot-shot teenaged Dominican prospect Jairo Beras to a near-record $4.5 million deal was greeted with varying degrees of scorn and disbelief by the major league scouting community, and was immediately put on hold while Major League Baseball launched its investigation into allegations that Beras had misrepresented his age to both the league and potential suitors.
We've had some time since then to sort through exactly who said or did what and when it happened, and though the outcome of the Beras investigation still very much remains up in the air, the last couple of detailed reports on the situation seemed to suggest that the league would kill the signing solely because Beras had been conveying incorrect information on his birth date to the league and those same potential suitors. In other words, the real issue was no longer about whether he was 16 or 17 years old, or whether he was actually eligible to sign with a team now as opposed to July 2nd, so much as it was about whether he was deceiving everyone right up until he agreed to terms with the Rangers.
Thanks to Jeff Wilson's extensive morning column on the Beras situation, we have some interesting new information by way of Beras's father, who lives in Richardson and, despite never having met his son,, recently initiated contact with him in an attempt to forge an actual relationship:
[Harold] Herdocia, [Beras's father], said that he was a member of the Angels organization in March 1994 and was sent to the Dominican Republic to be converted from an outfielder/first baseman to pitcher.
He met Beras' mother, Sandra, and learned two years later that he had fathered a son. He was told that Beras' birthday is Dec. 25, but there was a birth certificate that showed 1994 as the birth year and another with 1995.
The 1995 certificate has recently been thrown out by Dominican courts, he said. Herdocia also has a passport showing that he was in the Dominican in March 1994.
Assuming that everything Herdocia is selling here is true, this does appear to be a clear-cut case of procedural confusion with no underhanded or deceitful intent on Beras's part, and that was one mandatory prerequisite if this deal was ever going to have a chance of being green-lit. That's good news. It should absolve every related party -- including Beras, his buscone, and the Rangers -- of any wrongdoing or shady business, and it renders any and all past misrepresentation of his age that of an unwitting sort.
Wilson also offers another mention of the Nicaraguan newspaper article that identified Beras as being 17 years old as far back as last November; more important, though, is that the author of the article has now been revealed to be a Yankees scout by the name of Edgar Rodriguez. One could view that as something of a smoking gun as far as Beras's year-1994 birth date being more commonly known within the industry than some of the louder protests would have you think -- and, if that's the case, you begin to wonder if the biggest opponents of this signing really have much of a leg to stand on.
The overarching problem, though, remains unchanged: Unintentional as it might have been, Beras technically misrepresented his age to the league at the very least, and now it's a case of whether his ignorance of his true year of birth -- through no apparent fault of his own, mind you -- will go punished or not, either in the form of suspension or the signing itself being nuked. I don't know of an existing precedent for something as bizarre as this, and while my suspicions still point in the direction of this deal being killed and Beras being thrown back into the July 2nd fish pond, the fact that Beras's hands appear clean might yet be enough to get the commissioner's office to sign off on this.
Unless, of course, it isn't.