It emerged in January that intriguing Cuban talent Oscar Colas — who holds promise both as a pitcher and position player — was seeking to launch a big-league career. While he departed his home island to pursue that dream, there are some other complications that must still be navigated.
Colas drew attention last year for his high-quality showing with Japan’s Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. But as Jim Allen reports for Kyodo News, that appearance left some strings attached in the world’s top non-MLB league.
You’ll want to read Allen’s piece for the full rundown, but the gist is that Colas’s contract grants the Hawks five option years. His representatives believe the deal should be invalidated, at least after its initial term expires after the 2020 season.
There are several issues with the original agreement, Colas’s camp contends. For one thing, they say it was signed before he reached the age of consent under Japanese law (and without the signature of his guardian). For another, Colas’s reps claim the agreement was orchestrated by the Hawks and Cuban baseball officials, with Colas not fully informed of some key terms. Colas’s mother says the family believes it was “deceived” by the process. She alleges that the family never had an understanding of the options or a chance to review the contract before it was put in front of Colas to sign during a news conference. Allen’s report makes clear that there are several messy underlying factual disagreements, including whether Colas even personally signed certain documents.
It is not clear at this point whether and how this matter will be resolved. Colas’s reps have offered that he would play in 2020 if he’s allowed to depart thereafter, but the team has unsurprisingly insisted it retains control rights thereafter.
Colas will surely draw interest from MLB organizations if and when he’s able to market himself, whether through the posting process or as a free agent. Whatever the merits of the underlying factual disputes, this represents yet another instance in which a ballplayer has become entangled on the largely unmarked, obstacle-strewn path from Cuba to the majors.