Edgar Mercedes, the powerful Dominican trainer who represented Yoenis Cespedes and has been a part of some of baseball’s most expensive international amateur signings, was arrested yesterday in the Dominican Republic on charges of smuggling Cuban players into the country.
While the charges are technically called human trafficking, they stem from bringing Cuban baseball players into the country in what police have labeled a criminal organization. According to a statement from the Dominican national police, authorities also arrested Dominicans Manuel Antonio Azcona, Hector Ferreiras Ynfantes, Pedro Delgado Sanchez and Nilvio Antonio Cruz; along with Cubans Ernesto Enrique Guidi Vega, Roberto Rodriguez Guerra and Yuniel Ramirez. Authorities also seized boats, cars, phones, radios, GPS devices, passports and other documents.
Mercedes, along with Adam Katz of Wasserman Media Group, negotiated a four-year, $36 million major league contract with the Athletics in March. Mercedes had since filed a lawsuit against Cespedes for breach of contract in a Dominican court. Mercedes claimed that Cespedes has not yet paid him the 17 percent of his contract that he owes him for his services or paid Katz his 5 percent fee.
Among the other Cuban players Mercedes has worked with include first baseman Juan Miranda, who signed with the Yankees for $2 million in 2006, as well as Cuban lefthander Alexander Carreras, who signed with the Diamondbacks in November for $400,000.
Mercedes’ Born To Play program in the Dominican Republic has produced some of the top international bonuses ever. On July 2, 2008, righthander Michael Ynoa signed with the Athletics as a 16-year-old for $4.25 million, a record at the time (and now second of all-time) for an international amateur player, a deal that was also negotiated with Katz. Outfielder Wagner Mateo signed with the Cardinals on July 2, 2009, for $3.1 million, though his contract was voided when the Cardinals cited an issue with Mateo’s vision, and Mateo later signed with the Diamondbacks for $512,500 in May 2010.
Braves shortstop Edward Salcedo ($1.6 million in 2010), Braves lefthander Carlos Perez ($600,000 in 2008), Rockies shortstop Rosell Herrera ($550,000 in 2009) and Indians shortstop Ronny Rodriguez ($375,000 in 2010) are among the other players who signed out of Mercedes’ program.