About once or twice a week, I get a tweet or an e-mail or a message borne via carrier pigeon inquiring about Jairo Beras's status, asking why we haven't received a resolution on his situation yet from Major League Baseball, and/or wondering if he's actually ever going to end up being a part of the Rangers organization. For those who may have forgotten, Beras remains the focal point of an MLB-triggered investigation into a conflicted birth date situation and allegations that he knowingly misrepresented his age for the purpose of circumventing baseball's new international spending restrictions. I've also kind of kept up with it along the way, so, you know, there's that.
And since that investigation got underway nearly four months ago, there has been little in the way of publicly identifiable progress -- that is, beyond a flurry of articles about two months ago which indicated that the Beras investigation was complete, and that a decision could be "imminent." Two months ago has come and gone, and now, with this year's July 2nd international signing period very close to opening up, there's been some escalation in the amount of fan discontent about how long the Beras situation has been dragged out by baseball ... but this afternoon, Baseball America's Ben Badler writes that this is not an anomalous case in how long it has been dragged out, and disputes the notion that baseball is intentionally dragging its feet on the Beras investigation:
As of today, it has been almost four months—117 days, to be exact—since Beras was reported to have signed his $4.5 million contract with the Rangers. Last year from the Dominican Republic alone, there were at least 26 players who had to wait at least 117 days for MLB to approve their contracts, according to records obtained by Baseball America. Those files show at least 48 Dominican players who had to wait 100 days or more for contract approval. ... That's just the Dominican Republic, and that's just among players who had their contracts approved, not even counting the players whose deals were terminated, or someone like Cardinals righthander Andres Serrano, who signed in October and is still waiting for an answer from the league.
A potential waiting period of several months is something all teams face. Several club officials have expressed frustration with the approval process at times. The Rangers signed a player last year who took nearly three and a half months to get approved. Another American League team had to wait more than six months for contract approval on two of their 2011 signings.
Beras and the Rangers certainly aren't alone, but given the circumstances of his case, it shouldn't surprise anyone that MLB has yet to announce a decision. There are plenty of red flags in the case, including the fact that Beras has presented himself with two different ages using two different birth certificates. So not only does MLB have to determine whether Beras really is 17, but the league also has to figure out whether he violated major league rule 3(a)(1)(E), which states that no player is allowed to either directly or indirectly present to MLB or any team false information about his age, identity, citizenship or scholastic standing in connection with his signing.
I know that there had been some thought within the blogosphere that baseball was dragging the Beras situation out purposely, and that the delay was a tacit part of the Rangers' punishment for trying to sidestep the international free agency cap; Jon Daniels has, of course, spoken about how frustrating this is for the Rangers to work through, in that it casts a pall over an excellent international scouting department that should be commended instead of being the target of suspicion, and also in that the delays have handicapped the Rangers' ability to pursue other July 2nd prospects that they can't pursue in earnest without more clarity where their international signing budget is concerned.
In any event, Badler disagrees with the idea that baseball is stringing this out with an ulterior motive in mind, and he supports his opinion with hard quantitative data, and I'm good with that. But Badler also says that nobody, including the Rangers, should be surprised that this investigation has taken has long as it has, and that seems to run contrary to what Jon Daniels expressed to the media a month ago:
"We respect MLB's process in going through the investigation. Part of what they're doing is protecting us. It's just taken longer than we could have anticipated."