Outfielder Jairo Beras' contract with the Texas Rangers will be approved, but the teenager will be suspended until July 1, 2013, for providing a false date of birth when registering with Major League Baseball as a prospect, the league announced Thursday.
The league investigated Beras' age after the Rangers contended he was 17 and eligible to sign with the organization prior to the new collective bargaining agreement rules, which took effect earlier this month.
Reports surfaced in February the Rangers had agreed to terms on a $4.5 million bonus with the 6-foot-5 Dominican product. MLB and most teams thought Beras was 16 and, therefore, would fall under the cap of $2.9 million that teams had to dole out to international players for a year, starting July 2.
MLB investigated for more than four months before determining Beras was indeed 17. He can participate in workouts and practices at the Rangers' academy in the Dominican Republic, but can't play in any games. The league says he will not receive his salary under his minor league contract during the suspension, either.
"As an organization, we are pleased with the outcome of this process really dating back to spring training it's been ongoing," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Thursday. "MLB conducted a thorough investigation. I think their outcome points out a few things, notably that as we've felt all along, the contract was signed within the rules with the correct age and identity."
Beras is just the latest in a rash of spending for the club in Latin America for more than a year. Cuban outfielder Leonys Martin signed a five-year, $15.5 million deal last May and last July, the club added Dominican outfielders Nomar Mazar ($5 million) and Ronald Guzman ($3.5 million) to the club.
Daniels said the plan is for Beras to work out at the club's academy in the Dominican, but he can't participate in games. Daniels said that means the coaching staff must get creative in an effort to help Beras' development despite the suspension. It's likely Beras would be in Arizona to start next season, though that hasn't been determined. Daniels said the club supports MLB's decision to punish him.
"In the past, this may have been approved without discipline, but this has discipline for the player and trying to eliminate fraud going forward," Daniels said.
Daniels said when Beras worked out for clubs last December or January, the clubs got a roster sheet that showed his birth as December 1995. Daniels added that there is a line on the roster that says the ages and identities had not been confirmed.
Once the Rangers' scouts investigated, they discovered Beras was born Dec. 25, 1994, not Christmas Day 1995. That made him 17 and eligible to sign before the new rules took effect.
"I think there were other clubs that did some of the same work and were thinking along the same lines," Daniels said. "Our guys take pride in their work and doing their homework on all players. In a situation like this, where we placed a premium on the player, we felt this was a real value for the organization and someone we wanted and knowing the rules that are in place in the Dominican Republic, we knew we had to be thorough and buttoned up and didn't want to take any chances.
"Our guys went the extra mile and asked all the questions. Sometimes the record keeping in other countries is different than it is here. Being thorough and not just taking the initial information as fact, our guys kept on it and got the information."