The curious, winding, topsy-turvy case of Jairo Beras has achieved finality, and the outcome is a favorable one for both Beras and the Rangers, both of whom received the news earlier today -- or at some point in the last couple of days -- that Major League Baseball would uphold the Rangers' signing of Beras to a $4.5 million bonus, but were also informed that the league would be suspending him through July 1st, 2013 from participating in official games.
A brief synopsis of the case: Beras, at some point, furnished MLB with a year-1995 birth certificate that would have rendered him ineligible to sign with any team before July 2nd of this year. The Rangers uncovered what they felt -- and what the league ultimately deemed to be -- sufficient evidence that he was born in 1994, which would have rendered him eligible to sign before July 2nd, and would have enabled the Rangers to work around the impending $2.9 million-per-team spending cap. Other teams cried foul, the league launched a full-scale investigation into the case, and now, four and a half months later, the Beras contract is being upheld, albeit with a one-year suspension.
As Baseball America's Ben Badler points out, however, the suspension doesn't impact Beras or the Rangers on a practical level, as Beras will be permitted to continue training at the organization's Dominican baseball academy, is still allowed to go to the instructional league and spring training, and can still participate in the club's extended spring program, as well as participate in full workouts and practices:
Because Beras signed before this year's international signing period, his contract will not count against the Rangers' 2012-13 international bonus pool. The Rangers also will face no penalties from the signing.
Had Beras been subject to the new bonus rules or had his contract terminated by the league, he likely would have signed for far less than $4.5 million. And while he will have to sit out a year, had he signed on July 2, he would have signed a 2013 contract and likely would not have played in a game anyway until June 2013, when short-season play begins. So compared to other top international signings from this year, he'll miss less than a month of games.
So, in realistic terms, this has little negative impact upon Beras himself, and the Rangers have already proclaimed that they think "they can be creative and work around any delays in Beras' development." The Rangers will also face no league-imposed punitive measures in this case, although there has been some thought that baseball intentionally dragged its feet on the announcement of a decision on Beras until after the cream of the 2012-13 July 2nd prospect crop had already signed; Ben Badler made a quantitatively based case against this notion late last month, but the Rangers clearly felt that they had gone above and beyond normal due diligence on Beras, and, based on the amount/quality of evidence they turned over to MLB, felt this should have been decided a while back.
In a curious sidenote to all of this, however, the Rangers and the Beras camp both produced a seemingly legitimate year-1994 birth certificate (the year-1995 birth certificate that navigated its way into MLB's hands was ultimately thrown out by a Dominican court), and the paper trail seemed to indicate that a year-1995 birthdate was close to impossible (his father, who submitted to DNA testing to verify that he was indeed Beras's father, was only in the D.R. during March 1994) ... but the league still couldn't arrive at a consensus on his true age, per Yahoo! Sports' Tim Brown and Jeff Passan:
Beras had furnished a birth certificate to MLB indicating he was 16, sources said, while his post-signing paperwork declared otherwise. Following an investigation that involved multiple DNA tests, the league ultimately agreed that Beras was not 16, according to sources, which bolstered the Rangers' argument not to void the deal. In spite of assistance from other outside agents, including the former attorney general of Puerto Rico, MLB could not determine Beras' age with any certainty. Therefore, the league disciplined Beras for initially claiming he was 16.
So, yeah, a very curious, very bizarre case with an abundance of complexities, and, if the media's accounts are anything to go off of, a number of baseball people around the league are hissed off at this verdict, and believe that the contract should have been nullified -- that the Rangers should have been had their hands slapped for attempting to circumvent the system. The reality, though, is that there was sufficient evidence for the league to agree that Beras had a year-1994 birthdate, and that there was no intent to knowingly deceive anyone ... and with those two facts in hand, there was no basis for nullification of the contract and/or direct punishment of the Rangers.
And, so, the kid with the monster tools, the kid with at least an outside shot at becoming a generational talent and at eventually developing into a power-hitting COF fixture for Texas, is a Ranger. There are, of course, no guarantees with any prospect, much less a prospect who doesn't celebrate his 18th birthday for another five-plus months -- but, ideally, you pour your available resources into kids already equipped with the talent bases necessary to develop into above-average major league players, and if you hit on only a couple of them, you've got some special players on your hands.
Beras immediately vaults high and far in the Rangers' farm system rankings (Jason Parks suggests he's already a top-five player in that respect), and probably has just about as good of a chance of developing into something special as anyone else residing within his immediate age bracket. In that regard, and with today's good news ... yeah, even on the off day, it's a good day for the Rangers organization.