A visa issue has delayed the spring training arrival of Cubs Dominican righthander Juan Carlos Paniagua.
One of the issues for Paniagua, according to a source, is that the U.S. Consulate wanted to see more paperwork from his younger siblings, who were not declared in the Dominican Republic. Paniagua received his visa and had his $1.5 million contract that he signed with the Cubs last year in July approved in time for him to finish the 2012 season in the U.S., but he’s had paperwork issues in the past.
Paniagua originally signed with the Diamondbacks in May 2009 for $17,000 as Juan Carlos Collado, but his contract was never approved and MLB ruled him ineligible to sign for one year for presenting false paperwork. In 2011, he signed with the Yankees for $1.1 million as Juan Carlos Paniagua, but MLB again chopped the deal and declared him ineligible to sign for one year for what the league called “falsified documents.” Once his penalty ended, he signed with the Cubs last year using the same date of birth (April 4, 1990) that he used to sign with the Diamondbacks, which would make him 22. MLB ruled Paniagua’s age was undetermined, the Cubs decided to proceed with the contract, and Paniagua moved forward with his career.
Cardinals righthander Carlos Martinez, another pitcher who changed his name, served an MLB suspension, but never changed his date of birth between what he presented in his terminated contract with the Red Sox and his approved deal with St. Louis, was also having visa issues up until this week, when his visa was approved.
Every few years, the U.S. Consulates throughout the world rotate personnel, and this is the first spring training with the new personnel in the Dominican Republic. The Consulate has access to prior investigations done by MLB, so cases like Paniagua’s and Martinez’s are bound to raise red flags because of their checkered history and age undetermined rulings. As a result, the Consulate asks some of those players to provide additional paperwork, which delays the visa process.