Earlier this week, reporter Nathanael Pérez Neró of Diario Libre reported that Major League Baseball voided over 50 official and unofficial agreements between teams and international prospects. In a follow-up piece for The Athletic, Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal wrote that the league is trying to again crack down on a spate of suspected age and identity fraud cases within the international signing circuit, as some Dominican Republic-based trainers (known as buscones, who scout and help develop future prospects) have figured out how to work around a past set of guidelines established around 15 years ago.
International prospects can only be officially signed at age 16, yet is widely known that teams line up these deals sometimes multiple years ahead of a prospect’s eligibility period, which can lead to some paperwork confusion (at best) or outright fraud as worst. In several of the 50-odd scuttled agreements, teams including the Astros, Athletics, Mets, Red Sox, Royals, Twins, and Yankees learned that they were scouting or had agreements to sign prospects who were years older than their reported ages, including some who were lined up for hefty bonuses in future int’l signing windows.
More from around baseball as we start a new week….
- The Red Sox have some level of interest in first baseman Garrett Cooper, with MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo (links to X) describing Cooper as a backup plan if the Sox can’t re-sign Adam Duvall. Cooper has some right field experience but has played only first base and DH over the last two seasons, so Duvall is perhaps the better fit as a right-handed hitter who could complement any of Boston’s lefty-swinging outfield options. Known for his solid production as a member of the Miami lineup, Cooper’s slash line dipped to .251/.304/.419 over 457 plate appearances with the Marlins and Padres in 2023
- Coming off a down year that involved an ongoing battle with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, Carlos Correa is feeling fully recovered, as the Twins shortstop told the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Gavin Dorsey and other reporters. Correa got an early start to his usual offseason work due to both his effort to entirely rehab his foot, and to make changes to his swing mechanics. It is a marked difference from last offseason, when Correa’s unusual free agent situation and concerns about a past ankle injury resulted in his taking about a month off to prevent any further injuries to impact his market. As a result, Correa said “coming into spring training, I didn’t feel like I was prepared….This year, I do feel ready.”
- Free agent reliever Matt Barnes is planning to throw for scouts next week, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports (X link). Barnes entered the market in November when the Marlins spent $2.25MM to buy out Barnes’ $9MM club option for 2024 — an expected move, considering Barnes had a 5.48 ERA over 21 1/3 innings before his season was cut short by hip surgery. An All-Star as recently as 2021, Barnes usually posted numbers in the Red Sox bullpen from 2016-21, but injuries and inconsistency have cropped up over the last few years.