MLB approves Beras contract, but suspends him
Dominican outfielder will have to wait a year to turn pro for lying about age
SEATTLE -- Major League Baseball has approved the Rangers contract with outfielder Jairo Beras but has suspended the player for one year for lying about his age, the Commissioner's Office announced.According to the Commissioner's Office, Beras will be permitted to participate in workouts and practices during his suspension, but will not be permitted to participate in official games. Beras will not receive his salary under his Minor League contract for the duration of his suspension. The Rangers signed Beras for a $4.5 million signing bonus in March but the agreement was held up because of questions about the player's age. "As an organization we are pleased with the outcome of the process," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "Major League Baseball conducted a thorough investigation regarding the situation with Jairo Beras and his contract with the club. Major League Baseball is putting an increased emphasis on cleaning up this particular area and eliminating fraud. That's something we support and want to be a part of. "I think the outcome shows the contract signing was within the rules according to his age and identity. Not only does it show the Rangers did no wrong, but it also recognizes the work our guys did down there." The Rangers maintained Beras is 17 years old and was eligible to be signed immediately in March. Other clubs said they were under the impression he was only 16 and thus ineligible to be signed until July 2, when the international signing period began. If he had signed after that date, his bonus would have been much less under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that limits clubs this year to $2.9 million in bonuses to international amateur free agents.
Daniels said Beras' birthday is Dec. 25, 1994. At one point, while Beras was working out for clubs last December and January, information was provided to Major League Baseball that Beras' birthday was Dec. 25, 1995. The Rangers found out that he was actually a year older and was eligible to sign immediately."There were other clubs that did some of the same work and were thinking along the same lines," Daniels said. "Our guys take a lot of pride in doing their homework on all players. Knowing the rules that are in place, we knew we had to be thorough and didn't want to take any chances. "Our guys went the extra mile, asked the questions that needed to be asked and looked under every stone and [didn't take] initial information as fact. Our guys took extra steps to find [Beras] was eligible to be signed." Daniels said this is not the first time that a player lied about his age. In the past, some Latin American players have lied about their age and said they were younger in order to enhance their signing value. "MLB has made a point on how they are handling this, trying to clean up and eliminate fraud," Daniels said. "They felt this couldn't go unpunished ... hence the suspension." The scouting report on Beras is he is a high level hitting prospect who could develop significant power. Beras, who is 6-foot-5, hits and throws right-handed. "He's a very talented teenager," Daniels said. "It's the classic corner outfielder, a right-field profile: raw power, athleticism, plus arm, a guy who can field and throw." Beras is currently working out at the Rangers' academy in the Dominican Republic and that is likely where he will serve out the suspension. He can work out with the Rangers and participate in scrimmages but can not play in any official games. That includes the Dominican Republic Summer League. That is most likely where Beras would be playing right now if not for the hold up on approval of the contract and the subsequent suspension. "It's a little bit of a drag on that," Daniels said. "Our guys will have to be creative in his development." Beras' suspension ends on July 1, 2013. At that point, the Rangers are hoping he will be ready to play in the Arizona Rookie League. The Rangers exhausted their international amateur signing budget on Beras and did not sign any noteworthy prospects earlier this month at the deadline for signing such free agents. But Daniels acknowledged the Texas ownership group gave them more leeway to sign Beras. Daniels also said there might be some who are unhappy that the Rangers went unpunished and were allowed to keep the player. "Potentially ... I'm not sure what that would be based on," Daniels said. "I've seen a lot of anonymous quotes from other people. To me, that doesn't factor in. MLB did a thorough job and the outcome is what you see today. The contract is within the rules and the Rangers acted appropriately."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.