For those who have never heard of the 16-year-old Cuban baseball phenom Lazaro “Lazarito” Armenteros, he is in the news today for reasons other than his on-field potential. Per a story by Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi on FoxSports.com, Charles Hairston of Culture39, Lazarito’s representative in negotiating with major league clubs, has received death threats by the Dominican Republic-based investor (“buscon”) who represents the play. Due to this, he has decided to end their relationship.
Lazarito became eligible to sign with a major league team on February 10. While Hairston and Culture39 wanted to have him join an organization as soon as possible, his buscon wanted to wait until July 2, which is when international spending rules allow other clubs to enter the bidding to negotiate with a player more aggressively. This is when the conflict between the two representative parties began.
Buscones, which literally translates to “finders,” offer young Latin American players assistance with training, housing and clothing in exchange for 20-25 percent of the player’s future salary. Due to their cut of a player’s contract, it makes sense as to why Lazarito’s would want to wait for the July 2 date when he could get the most money for himself. However, Hairston seemed to want the best for the player and to get his career started sooner rather than later.
Hairston secured an invitation for Lazarito to attend one organization’s spring training camp and meet with front office personnel, but the buscon withheld the travel documents for Lazarito and his family. Tension between the two parties escalated after more than 140 scouts attended Lazarito’s showcase at the Padres’ complex in San Cristobal, Domincan Republic earlier this month.
Given his age, Lazarito is subject to international spending limits; any team that signs him and already has exceeded its international budget would be forced to pay a 100-percent tax on the amount by which it surpassed its assigned bonus pool, according to Rosenthal and Morosi. That said, the Dodgers are said to be interested in the prospect regardless of the penalties incurred. The Padres and Braves are also said to be pursuing him, but would rather wait until the July 2 signing period.
Although Hairston ended his relationship for the time being, he is open to work with him in the future. “I feel for the kid. He is truly special. We are still looking forward to working with him when he comes to the United States once his situation is resolved,” he said of the situation. Hairston is a name familiar among those in the baseball community. His family sent three generations of players to the big leagues, including his uncle, Jerry Hairston Sr., and cousins, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Scott Hairston.
The news of issues surrounding another Cuban player come after US-based player agent Bart Hernandez was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of human trafficking relating to his client, Leonys Martin’s defection from Cuba. A SAB story can be found here. In addition to relations between Cuba and the US improving, there is a frenzy to sign Cuban players due to the current MLB CBA expiring on December 1. Negotiations with international players could be affected by the new CBA.