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cubaTypically, when the dreaded “is that his real age” question comes up, you’re talking about a prospect who may have led MLB teams to believe he was younger than he actually was, thus upping his value in the eyes of scouts.

Now there’s a reason to say you’re older than you actually are.

A change last year to the Collective Bargaining Agreement limited the amount MLB teams could spend internationally, subject to a handful of exceptions. One of those exceptions applied to players who had played professionally elsewhere and had reached the age of 23. So, it was awfully fortuitous that recently-defected Cuban shortstop prospect Aledmys Diaz, in whom the Cubs reportedly have interest, just turned 23 on January 8. Instead of being limited to signing for whatever teams had left in their international signing pools, Diaz could now be showered with unlimited riches from MLB teams desperate to acquire freely-available internationals talent.

But was it merely fortune, or is he gaming the system?

That’s the question MLB is now asking, according to Baseball America’s Ben Badler. A variety of older articles online show an August 1, 1990 birthday for Diaz, and a roster used by the Cuban team just last year shows an August 1, 1991 birthday. The former would make Diaz 22, the latter 21. In either case, he wouldn’t yet be eligible to sign without restrictions.

Torres has a pretty good explanation for the August 1990 birthday, though, pointing out that sometimes the day and month are inverted in Latin American countries – so Diaz’s alleged January 8, 1990 birthday could be misreported as 8-1-1990, or August 1, 1990.

Still, there’s enough here for unease. If a team were to sign Diaz now to a contract that would otherwise put them over their international pool, they could be at risk for retroactively having the penalties for going over that pool applied to them if and when MLB determines that Diaz is just 21 or 22. Worse, they could be at risk for having the agreement terminated, or other sanctions imposed, depending on the team’s conduct.

Diaz’s agent Jamie Torres tells Badler that the documentation he has shows Diaz is 23, which is all he needs to see.

“I’ve seen from different rosters, different ages for players in Cuba,” Torres said, “so I don’t pay much attention to what is put on the pages from Cuba.”

Torres added that MLB is requiring Diaz, and fellow defector Dariel Alvarez, to go through the United States Office of Foreign Assets unblocking process to produce an unblocking license, which is usually reserved for foreign players who cannot provide documentation of a permanent residence in a country other than Cuba. Diaz and Alvarez claim permanent residency in Mexico, so MLB’s request is a bit unusual, and could be tied to the age issue.

Torres says the MLB Players Association is looking into the matter on behalf of the players, but until it is resolved, the duo may not be able to have their public showcase, for which we’ve been waiting for almost a month now.

Although Diaz is considered a legitimate prospect, keep your expectations and obsessiveness at appropriate levels – the early indication from scouts is that Diaz is not a prospect of the caliber of Yoenis Cespedes, Jorge Soler or Yasiel Puig. Then again, very few scouts have been able to see Diaz at length yet, so we may just have to see.

  • Austin

    Yea 8-1-1990 would in fact mean January 8th, 1990. Cuba uses it and so does every Latin country (as far as I know).

  • Vince

    They do. I have taken many Spanish classes and all the countries that speak Spanish always put the date first and then the month. It was always hard for students to adjust to it, just like their decimal point in numbers is equivalent to a comma in numbers for the United States.

  • Grant Jones

    I really hope we can grab one of these 2 Cubans, and the 26 year old that just defected is deffinatley an interesting prospect also

  • Deez

    The U.S. is the only ones who use MM/DD/YYYY. Most of the world uses DD/MM/YYY. Also, they use the metric system as well. That being said, Latin players have regularly gamed the system w/ their ages for compensation.
    We really need a totally international draft because Latin Players have opportunity to game the system easily.

  • Mac

    Rangers sign Jeff Baker to minor league contract
    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2013/01/rangers-sign-baker-robertson.html

    • #1lahairfan

      Darn! I wanted him. Why didn’t we sign him if it was a minor league deal?

      Still cannot believe we got a top 20 prospect for him!

    • Big Daddy

      Is it just me or does it seem like the Rangers like a lot of former Cubs? Maybe we ought to send them Valbuena for Cody Buckel? Ha Ha.

  • Jason (Thundermug)

    Well lets see Geovany Soto, Jeff Beliveau, now Jeff Baker Rangers are gonna be World Series Champs now ( Jeff Baker move put them over the top !!!)

    • Mac

      Don’t forget Neal Cotts and Randy Wells! (Both on minor league deals as well)

      • MichiganGoat

        Sigh… Randy Wells the little pitcher that could and then absouletely couldn’t

    • Xavier

      Does Jake Brigam count?

  • Jason (Thundermug)

    Wow forgot about Randy Wells signing w/ Cotts alot of Cubs connections with the Rangers now

  • Tim

    It’s not like these are the first Latin guys to come play here. There’s got to be more to it then just the dates being backwards otherwise MLB would have figured this out quite awhile ago

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I agree.

  • Mickandy

    Yeah, and Pujols just turned 33! puhhhleeeaaaseee

  • Crazyhorse

    Well its a slow day! I look at who the Cubs sign this off season and for the most part its an improvement over last season. The Sp pitching looks promising/ not to embarrass . The Relief looks promising/ not to embarass . The only thing I don’t understand is Scott Hairston and we gave that dinosaur (wrong side of 30 LOL hell wrong side of 32 ) a cheap two year contract. Two years?

    He seems to be a terrible player / or a player that Cubs have with duplicate hitting styles- Low OBP- suspect power but at least those players are rookies . unless the Cubs sign him to back infielder at 2b – i think that is the only position he was played at MLB level. But his value as a back up infielder is nil.

    HE stinks – and the Cubs have no room on the 25 roster for his skill set. Its almost like a wasted roster spot for 2 years

    • BWA

      Hairston Crushes lefties and has legitimate power. Also, he plays outfield, not infield.

      The signing gives us two very nice platoons in the outfield. Dejesus and Schierholtz both hit righties well and Sappelt and Hairston both crush lefties. Plus hairston can replace soriano when needed and somewhat replace his power. I’m not saying its a great outfield, because its not, but hairston is a very solid backup outfielder and certainly won’t block anyone like say jackson, when the time is right.

  • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

    38 days later, it’s over.

    Lendy Castillo DFA, Carlos Villanueva official.

    Who was it that said there was no way Castillo would be a DFA?

    • North Side Irish

      People who thought you were referring to Wellington. Waiving Lendy should have happened last year.

    • http://www.worldseriesdreaming.com dabynsky

      I am guessing we are also pretty close to finding out whether Campana makes it through waivers or not as well.

      • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

        No. I can’t remember if it was here or maybe on BleedCubbieBlue, but someone was very adamant that there was no way we’d kept Lendy on the roster all year last year only to DFA him this year and risk losing him again.

      • Crazyhorse

        It funny, I like Campana dose he deserves a roster spot? maybe not on this team – The Cubs outfield seem to be in revolving platoon situation. for 2013. I also feel the Cubs Coaching staff misused Campana ability last season and he has some fielding issues at Wrigley Field. maybe eye surgery would help. he gets bad jumps and if can not compensate by his speed than it almost laughable

        You put Campana in a Brewer Uniform i bet this guy becomes an average outfielder and maybe an elite runner. Not really a knock on the Cubs they just dont use him correctly- he should be a pinch runner in late games and learn to play left field.- he need to be a contact hitter and our primary Sac pinch hitter move the runner and hopefully scratch a single.

        -

    • Mac

      Yes, it was me. Didn’t realize you were talking about Lendy until after I posted. Never went back to correct myself. Sorry for the confusion.

  • Crazyhorse

    Sorry, the only infield position he played at MLB level was 2b I miss typed yes to the outfield positions .. He crushes left handers ? he seems to have equal power from both sides . his OBP against lefty still seem weak in 310 to 320 range its fair at best – and yes he seems to make less contact with right handers but not really at a loss for power . I understand he had good season against lefties last year in power but his over numbers suggest he has equal power from both side of the plate and last year was a blimp- maybe he just faced weaker left handed pitchers.

    I just find it odd, that with the current roster situation and given Hairston history of being a fair hitter at best, against left handers and a weak against righties his signing was unnecessary .

    he will win you games that is debatable but not important cause the amount of games lost or won with him the line is not important. What is important is his roster spot – seems like the Cubs could have other options to develop it youngsters. unless he takes over second base. then i can see this being a plus. he is the same batter like barney just with alittle more pop.

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