Mets prospect Willy Fañas and Rangers prospect Keiderson Pavon are suing the Los Angeles Angels in a Dominican Republic court over an alleged violation of a verbal agreement, reports ESPN.
Both Fañas and Pavon entered into informal agreements with the Angels for specific dollar amounts (Fanas for $1.8 million and Pavan for $425,000) before they turned 16 years old. It's a common practice, as international players can't legally enter into agreements until annual international signing day once they turn 16, but MLB teams swarm the best players when they are as young as 12 years old. The Angels had turnover in the front office before each player turned 16 -- remember, general manager Perry Minasian was hired in November of 2020 -- and ended up not signing either player when they became eligible on Jan. 15, 2021.
The potential fallout here goes beyond just these two players and instead could go toward how MLB teams operate in international signings. Per the ESPN report:
Despite the growing prevalence of broken deals -- players, too, have backed out of agreements with teams to reap larger paydays elsewhere -- the cases of Fañas and Pavon are the first known to have multiple hearings in the Dominican justice system, where the law gives greater weight to verbal contracts and their enforceability than the United States, according to lawyers who practice there.
The potential consequences of the civil actions, which were filed in May 2021 and have not previously been reported, are enormous beyond the millions of dollars in damages Fañas and Pavon are seeking. Hundreds of early deals are agreed to by teams and players each year but the practice would be far less prevalent if a judge deems them legally binding, four high-ranking team executives told ESPN.
It's worth mentioning that there's been a push in recent years to enact an international draft. The ownership side presented it as part of a proposal to the MLBPA this past winter and spring during the lockout, too, and at least some of the player side seemed open to it, though it was ultimately not included in the current collective bargaining agreement.
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Fañas, 18, since signed with the Mets for $1.5 million. The 6-foot-2 switch-hitting outfielder is playing in the Dominican Summer League (essentially a form of Rookie Ball). He's hitting .257/.330/.297 with two doubles, a triple, 10 RBI, 16 runs and 10 steals in 32 games.
Pavon, 18, signed with the Rangers for $150,000 and is also in the Dominican Summer League. In 55 games, the infielder is hitting .260/.348/.291 with five doubles, 18 RBI, 29 runs and 13 steals.
Whatever happens here is much bigger than the individual players, though. It's worth tracking to see how it impacts the way MLB teams deal in Latin American amateur baseball.