Cuban center fielder Eddy Julio Martinez’s $3MM signing bonus from the Cubs has generated quite a bit of controversy, as reports prior to that signing indicated that he’d reached a $2.5MM deal with the Giants. San Francisco GM Bobby Evans had acknowledged the agreement, but Martinez soon after the fact was said no longer to be signing with the Giants.
Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle sheds some light on the scenario. As has been previously reported, Martinez hired U.S.-based agents at the Beverly Hills Sports Council to represent him, but he also was already employing local agents (or “buscones”) from the Dominican Republic — at least two more, per Schulman. Martinez’s family hired BHSC to conclude negotiations once his buscones had agreed to a deal with a team.
The Giants received a signed offer sheet from Martinez’s agents at BHSC, and the story was picked up by the media, and the Giants, according to Schulman, believed that the Cubs saw the report and upped their offer to Martinez’s buscones at the last minute. A source tells Schulman that when the Giants met with Martinez’s buscones to collect a signature from Martinez himself in the Dominican Republic, San Francisco was informed that Martinez would not be signing after all.
Schulman writes that those familiar with the Cubs’ side of the story reject the notion of upping their offer based on media reports, saying the Cubs had been speaking to Martinez’s buscones for quite some time, and the buscones stayed in contact with Chicago after BHSC took over talks with the Giants. In the end, Major League Baseball concluded that the player’s signature was final, as opposed to an offer sheet signed by Martinez’s U.S. agents. The league also cleared the Cubs of any wrongdoing in the scenario.
While the entire situation undoubtedly seems shady from the outside, it’s not unprecedented. The Giants themselves even benefited from a similar situation this year, as MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports (links to Twitter). San Francisco’s top international signing was Bahamian shortstop Lucius Fox, who received a $6MM signing bonus (which cost the Giants $12MM after luxury tax considerations). However, the Dodgers believed they had a deal with Fox right up until the international signing period kicked off on July 2 and were “stunned” to learn that he would instead sign with the Giants.
Per Sanchez, Fox’s father played a large role in the decision to sign with the Giants over the Dodgers, and Martinez’s father was involved in the Giants/Cubs situation as well. Schulman hears that the Giants acquired Fox’s signature by sending a team representative to his 18th birthday party.
Evans referred to the international prospect scene as the “wild wild West” when speaking to Schulman about the situation, adding: “Without an international draft, a player remains an international free agent until he signs a contract. That’s why, when deals get reported early, it’s not an advantage to the club making the deal.”