U.S. DOJ investigating MLB international player dealings

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Sports Illustrated has learned that the U.S. Department of Justice has begun a sweeping probe into possible corruption tied to the recruitment of international players, centered on potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. What’s more, SI has learned that multiple alleged victims of smuggling and human trafficking operations have already given evidence to law enforcement agents or testified before a federal grand jury.

“We had heard there was an investigation coming,” says one top baseball official. “But we didn’t know it was a DOJ matter. I don’t want to speculate, but, yeah, this could get interesting.”

SI has also obtained a thick dossier of documentation that was provided to the FBI at the beginning of the probe. The trove of evidence—the material that largely persuaded the bureau to launch an investigation—includes videotapes, photographs, confidential legal briefs, receipts, copies of player visas and passport documents, internal club emails and private communications by franchise executives in 2015 and 2016....

Collectively, the documents offer a vivid window into both this netherworld and the thermodynamics of the operation: How Caribbean smugglers traffic Cuban nationals to American soil, using third-country way stations. How the underground pipeline ferries Cuban players to stash houses in countries like Haiti and Mexico before they can seek lucrative contracts with MLB clubs. How teams interact with buscones, the unregulated street-level agents who often take a financial stake in Latin American players.

The dossier given to the FBI suggests the extent to which some MLB personnel are aware of—and brazenly discuss—this unscrupulous culture and the potential for corruption. While both the league office and other teams are mentioned in the files obtained by SI, the Los Angeles Dodgers, a franchise with extensive scouting and development operations in the Caribbean, figure most prominently in the dossier:

— One particularly remarkable document shows that Dodgers executives in 2015 went so far as to develop a database that measured the perceived “level of egregious behavior” displayed by 15 of their own employees in Latin America. That is, using a scale of 1 to 5—“innocent bystander” to “criminal”—front-office executives assessed their own staff’s level of corruption. Five employees garnered a “criminal” rating....

— The dossier also appears to describe efforts to circumvent federal laws and MLB rules requiring Cuban players to establish residency in another country before negotiating and signing with a team. (Because of the U.S. embargo of Cuba, Cuban players cannot enter the U.S. directly under current immigration law. Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers’ star outfielder from Cuba, famously spent a month in a Mexican hotel room before he found safe passage to the United States in 2012.) Among those efforts to circumvent, the dossier includes a transcript of a Nov. 21, 2015, text message conversation between two Dodgers executives in which they discuss the need to “shred” a contract signed with a player before MLB had approved the document. There are also indications that dates on other official documents were doctored before they were forwarded to the MLB office.


a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 3 October 2018 16:37 (nine months ago) link

sorry for huge but this is a classic spreadsheet
The Dodgers went as far to develop the above document to detail the "level of egregious behavior" displayed by their own employees in Latin America. Graded on a 1-5 scale from "minimal" to "criminal," four of their own employees ranked a 5, described as "criminal; oversees the operation of people and money."

Karl Malone, Wednesday, 3 October 2018 16:42 (nine months ago) link

level of egregious behavior is the new market inefficiency

mookieproof, Wednesday, 3 October 2018 16:46 (nine months ago) link

i like how even level 1 of 5 is "mostly" just an innocent bystander

Karl Malone, Wednesday, 3 October 2018 16:48 (nine months ago) link

ISO .xlsx

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Wednesday, 3 October 2018 16:49 (nine months ago) link

this reminds me that i keep forgetting to delete that spreadsheet i keep which documents the level of egregious behavior of people i know, from minimal to criminal

Karl Malone, Wednesday, 3 October 2018 16:50 (nine months ago) link

There was an article about this on fangraphs a few days ago, but the SI report goes a lot further. That spreadsheet is next level craziness.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Wednesday, 3 October 2018 16:54 (nine months ago) link

Can someone remind me - didn’t a team already get spanked over something like this? I seem to remember a couple players had to be let go as a result?

Mad Piratical (The Cursed Return of the Dastardly Thermo Thinwall), Thursday, 4 October 2018 02:01 (nine months ago) link

the Barves, but it was a little different

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 4 October 2018 02:17 (nine months ago) link

Right right, they were offering gifts etc in an effort to get around signing bonus restrictions, or some such iirc.

Mad Piratical (The Cursed Return of the Dastardly Thermo Thinwall), Thursday, 4 October 2018 02:26 (nine months ago) link

well this could be fun

call all destroyer, Thursday, 4 October 2018 02:28 (nine months ago) link

More analysis on fangraphs: https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-dodgers-might-be-in-actual-legal-trouble/

In other words, for current and former Dodgers employees — including people like Gabe Kapler (who ran the Dodgers’ player development system from 2014 through 2016) and Friedman — getting banned from baseball may end up being a best-case scenario depending on the extent of their involvement and whether they knew or should have known about the illegality going on in their operations.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Tuesday, 9 October 2018 08:22 (nine months ago) link

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