What was expected to be a light workout for a Cuban defector today turned into international pandemonium, sending scouts scrambling and frustrated amidst the chaos.
Yasiel Puig, a 21-year-old Cuban outfielder, was supposed to have his first open workout today for scouts in Mexico. Jaime Torres, who says he is the agent for Puig, informed teams that Puig’s workout would begin today at 10 a.m. at the home stadium of the Mexico City Red Devils.
When it was time for the workout to begin, Puig was nowhere to be found.
On Wednesday, Baseball America had heard from multiple sources that Puig had left Torres and gone to Cancun, where he was supposedly now going to be represented by Rudy Santin, the former director of Latin American operations for Tampa Bay. Santin, according to club officials, had told them that he was now representing Puig and that the outfielder would be holding workouts in Cancun over the next week.
Puig had in fact been in Cancun with Santin, and eventually word spread among scouts at the Mexico City workout. Many of those scouts left, some of them to catch a plane to Cancun to follow Puig.
As it turned out, while those scouts were leaving, Puig was in the midst of departing Cancun to show up to Mexico City. He finally showed up in Mexico City with Torres and at noon began his workout, which consisted of just a batting practice session for whatever scouts were still in attendance. There were some teams this evening who hadn’t even realized that Puig had returned to Mexico City for his workout.
“This is a circus,” said one scout. “An absolute circus.”
Torres said he received word within the last two days that Santin had been claiming to be the agent for Puig. Torres said he was unable to get in touch with Puig by phone, and when he inquired with the MLB players’ association, he was told that nobody else had filed paperwork to represent him.
Santin said he had flown into Cancun on Tuesday and worked out an agreement with Puig to represent him in exchange for three percent of his contract. According to Santin, he had Puig signed to an agent-player agreement and Puig had signed a termination of service letter with Torres that Santin had sent to MLB. At some point early this morning—around 5 a.m., in Santin’s estimation—Puig had vanished.
“Some of his friends helped him and he flew in from Cancun to Mexico City,” Torres said.
The specifics of how Puig went from Mexico City to Cancun and then back again aren’t clear yet, nor are his motivations for doing so.
“He was with me up until 10 p.m. last night,” Santin said. “I was going to get his stuff in the morning, we talked about some things and he must have begun to speak to Jaime, had a change of heart and went with Jaime. That’s the way this business is. You win some, you lose some. Jaime had him originally, I was able to convince him and he convinced him back. I can’t say I’m not disappointed.”
At this point, Torres is again representing Puig, and Torres said he verified that today with the players’ association. Puig has another workout in Mexico City tomorrow at 1 p.m. and on Sunday at 10 a.m. He won’t face live pitching, but he will take BP and throw, though Torres wasn’t sure whether he will run the 60-yard dash.
Scouts will just be happy to know where to find him.