MLB Punishes Cuban Shortstop Aledmys Diaz For False Age

Major League Baseball has declared Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz ineligible to sign until February 19, 2014 for presenting a false date of birth.

Diaz, who is represented by Jaime Torres, had presented himself at the beginning of the year as being born Jan. 8, 1990. That date of birth would have made Diaz 23 and thus exempt from the international bonus pools.

However, Baseball America reported in January that the date of birth Diaz was presenting didn’t appear to match any records he had used in Cuba. In a December 2007 story on the official website of Cuba’s top league, Serie Nacional, Diaz is listed as being born “1 de agosto de 1990,” or Aug. 1, 1990. After Diaz left Cuba last year in July, Cuban media reports referred to Diaz as being 21, which would have matched the Aug. 1, 1990 date of birth.

BA couldn’t verify whether MLB had determined Diaz’s real date of birth, with a couple of rosters from international tournaments only adding to the confusion. A roster from the 2010 Pan American games lists Diaz as being born in 1991, although no date of birth is given. A Cuban roster from Haarlem Baseball Week in the Netherlands in July 2012 lists Diaz being born Aug. 1, 1991, which would make him 21. Either way, there’s no record of Diaz being born in January like he has been presented. Further complicating matters for Diaz is that, according to what Torres told BA in January, Diaz acquired permanent Mexican residency documents using the Jan. 8, 1990 date of birth.

Diaz is not the first Cuban player Torres has represented who has used a false age. In 2009, Torres had agreed to sign outfielder Felix Perez with the Yankees for a deal believed to be worth around $3 million, but that deal fell apart when MLB suspended Perez for one year for using a false date of birth four years younger than his real age. Perez signed with the Reds in 2010 for $550,000. Torres did not respond to a request for comment.

The incentive for Diaz to pretend to be older than he is rather than younger lies in the details of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. International signings count against teams’ international bonus pools, but Cuban players who are at least 23 and have three or more years of professional experience in Cuba (which Diaz has) are exempt from the pools and can sign without restrictions.