Juan Carlos Paniagua Rumors

Central Links: Motte, Martinez, Cubs, Wood

Cardinals closer Jason Motte will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery on Monday, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louid Post-Dispatch (on Twitter). Edward Mujica has filled in admirably as the team's closer in his absence, but the Cardinals will likely be the subject of many relief rumors as the trade deadline draws near. Here's more out of baseball's Central divisions…

  • Earlier today, Goold tweeted a link to a story that he wrote nearly two years ago, chronicling the long, difficult process of signing top prospect Carlos Martinez. Martinez, who was promoted to the Majors this morning, had originally been signed by the Red Sox, but that deal fell through due to questions surrounding his documentation. Martinez, whose mother died before his first birthday, was going by the name given to him by his uncle who raised him — Carlos Matias. The Cardinals tirelessly searched for school records and his mother's death certificate to prove his identity, at which point he adopted her last name once again.
  • Cubs prospect Juan Carlos Paniagua is in a similar predicament to the one Martinez initially faced, writes Baseball America's Ben Badler. The U.S. Consulate is currently requesting school records and identification documents of Paniagua's siblings before issuing him a work visa.
  • The Twins still have two weeks to make a decision on right-hander Tim Wood, tweets Phil Miller of the Star Tribune. Wood is on a rehab assignment but appears healthy at this point. However, he only looks "so-so" according to Miller, and Minnesota's bullpen has been a strength early in the season. Because Wood is on the 40-man roster and out of options, he'd have to be exposed to waivers to be sent to Triple-A at the end of his rehab stint.
  • We also learned earlier today that the minor trade which would have sent Mark Teahen from the D-backs to the Reds fell through due to an issue with Teahen's phsyical.

Cubs Sign Juan Carlos Paniagua

The Cubs have signed Dominican right-hander Juan Carlos Paniagua to a contract with a $1.5MM signing bonus, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America.  This is the third time that Paniagua has signed a contract with a Major League team, with the first two signings (in 2011 with the Yankees and in 2009 with the Diamondbacks under the name of Juan Carlos Collado) both resulting in one-year suspensions due to problems with fraudulent documentation.  Paniagua lists his date of birth as April 4, 1990, the same as he did in his previous two MLB contracts.

The $1.5MM bonus will count against the Cubs' international spending cap for the 2012-13 period, as Paniagua was signed after the July 2 deadline for international signings.  Paniagua is the latest in a series of notable Latin American signings for the Cubs under the Theo Epstein/Jed Hoyer regime; Chicago has added Jorge Soler and Gerardo Concepcion, plus Frandy de la Rosa at the July 2 deadline.

Quick Hits: Gamel, Paniagua, Padres, Harper

Brewers GM Doug Melvin confirmed that Mat Gamel has a torn right ACL and is likely to miss the rest of the season, reports Tom Haudricourt of The Journal Sentinel. "For now, we'll fill from within," said the GM. "[Travis Ishikawa] will be out there. Making trades aren't as easy as people think."

Here's the latest from around the league…

  • Dominican right-hander Juan Carlos Paniagua recently worked out for teams in Puerto Rico, reports Conor Glassey on Baseball America. The Yankees signed the 22-year-old for $1.1MM last year, though the deal was later voided. Paniagua will be free to sign with teams on July 19th, though he will be subject to the international spending restrictions implemented by the new collective bargaining agreement.
  • ESPN's Jim Bowden put together a list of early trade candidates, including names like Brandon League, Erik Bedard, and Jeff Francoeur.
  • "There are a lot of good things about [the San Diego] market," said Scott Boras to Tom Krasovic of Inside of the Padres. "Has to be an owner with lot of money and patience," he added. The Padres are expected to be sold in the near future, possibly by the All-Star break.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wrote about Bryce Harper and explained why the Nationals should not send him down. Meanwhile, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tries to temper expectations for the young phenom.
  • Matt Eddy of Baseball America has a full recap of last week's minor league transactions, including DL assignments and players signed as undrafted free agents.

MLB Voids Contract Of Yankees’ Paniagua

SATURDAY: Paniagua's suspension was due to "falsified documents," Badler hears from MLB vice president Kim Ng.  The league is still investigating the matter and hasn't made a final ruling on Paniagua's status.  Ng notes that Paniagua's representatives are asking the league to reconsider the initial decision and that while the right-hander is unable to sign with any team for a year, Paniagua isn't technically "suspended" since he isn't under an official contract yet.

THURSDAY: Major League Baseball has voided the $1.1MM contract of Yankees pitching prospect Juan Carlos Paniagua and suspended the right-hander for one year, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. MLB hasn't specified — even to the Yankees — why Paniagua has been suspended, but "one-year suspensions are usually reserved for a player who presents false information to teams about his age or identity," writes Badler.

Paniagua is no stranger to these circumstances. The Diamondbacks signed him — then going by the name Juan Collado — for a mere $17K in May 2009. While that contract was under review, Paniagua was allowed to play in the Dominican Summer League under a rule that's since been changed, and he impressed scouts with a big fastball. The contract with Arizona was voided and Paniagua was suspended in June 2010. When that suspension was lifted in March, teams were lining up for his services, with the Yankees placing the winning bid.

His contract once again was pending MLB's review since signing with the Yankees, and he has not played in any games during that time. We can't say for sure why Paniagua was suspended, but Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic speculated in March that the hangup may have been regarding Paniagua's birthday, which he didn't amend even when he came clean about his name:

There still is a lot of skepticism about whether he’ll actually get off the island and into the U.S. The fact that he changed his name, but not his birthday, is a red flag.