- Mike Fish
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SAN PEDRO DE MACORIS, Dominican Republic -- As Robinson Cano and his advisers prepare to seek a big money free-agent contract, he is part of an increasingly bitter child-support case in which the anticipated windfall is not lost on either side.
Jackelin Castro, the mother of Cano's 3-year-old son, filed a child-support case in a San Pedro de Macoris court last month. She, her attorneys and representatives of Cano are scheduled in court Nov. 7, just as Cano hits the free-agent market.
Cano's salary this season was $15 million. If all goes as planned, the five-time All-Star figures to sign a multiyear deal with the New York Yankees or another deep-pocketed suitor this winter.
Castro, in an interview with "Outside the Lines," portrayed Cano as an absentee, tight-with-a-buck father, saying he has skimped on adequate support for his son by paying her about $600 a month. Cano said he is paying the agreed-upon amount of support.
The sides have been trying to reach a deal since at least February when, according to Castro, an attorney who no longer works for Cano visited her home and pitched what she described as a 10-year contract.
The proposal, she said, dealt with visitation rights for Cano and child support -- which a document she was given indicates was for a payment of 150,000 Dominican pesos every six months, or the equivalent of between $500 and $600 a month. Also included was a confidentiality provision. If found in violation, Castro would be liable for damages in the amount of 2 million pesos, or about $47,000.
She declined to sign the document.
"The intention of him and his advisers was somewhat to intimidate me," Castro said.
Those close to Cano, speaking on the condition of anonymity, brushed off questions raised by Castro and her attorneys, including a prominent insider who insists "there is no story here." Though no one suggests the child's father is anyone other than Cano, the mother is portrayed as having tried to shake down the player for more money and made threats of him.
Cano issued a statement Wednesday through his publicist.
"I have gone above and beyond to care for my child, including an agreed upon monthly stipend, a house, a car, insurance, school and other essentials for the baby and his mother as well as many other things including toys and clothing," the statement said. "This is a private matter and I will not fight it in the media, nor will I say anything disparaging about the mother of my child or comment any further. I look forward to an amicable resolution that will allow me time with my son."
Cano is represented by Brodie Van Wagenen of CAA Sports and Jay Z's Roc Nation, and a representative of his new team said Major League Baseball security was briefed in anticipation of Castro and her attorneys going public. An MLB official said the office became aware of the issue after Castro or a representative of hers contacted the Yankees about the child support issue. The official said there was no role for MLB and no reason to report anything to law enforcement.
Castro told OTL that the couple had a relationship of almost three years, starting in 2008. They lived together during the offseason, and she made trips in-season to New York. Since the birth of their son, she said they rarely talk except through third parties and the elevated chatter of attorneys.
Soon after the birth of his son, Robinson Miguel Cano Castro, she said Cano began monthly payments of $500 that increased in May to $600. The payments routinely have been delivered by a relative, though there is not a specific date or schedule. For example, Castro said she received payments for May and June on July 2, followed by payments for July and August on Aug. 15.
"It's like a crumb because I [have] to chase after that money," she said through an interpreter. "It's not something where you get it every month on a specified date."
Wendy Diaz, an attorney for Castro, said the sum itself is an embarrassment for someone of Cano's financial wherewithal, adding that she believes "the money he gives to the son, when he does, is not enough to feed the dogs of Robinson Cano's house." She paused, then added: "Maybe he is expending more money on the dogs and cars than he has on his own child."
Castro, 39, said if people want to see her as a gold digger, so be it. As she tells it, her 3-year-old is entitled to live like Cano's son, not to be tucked away at night in a 3-foot-by-6-foot crib jammed between a wall and his mother's bed. Not under cracked and falling plaster (products of a leaky roof). Not in a six-room place that is home to five while Cano's Dominican home sits 30 minutes away in a gated golf course community.
She said Cano bought the house and moved her in in 2008; he also bought her a BMW SUV. She said the insurance Cano says he is paying for does not cover her son because the paperwork does not list the son's name.
Castro is eight years his senior, based on their listed ages, and a divorcee with three teenagers. She and Cano were early into a pregnancy with twins when she suffered a miscarriage in 2009, according to Castro.
In September 2010, she gave birth to their son.
Through an interpreter, Castro repeatedly declined to reveal what she deems appropriate monthly support for the child, though her legal representation puts that amount at $25,000 a month. Castro challenged the image Cano projects through his RC24 Foundation and its mission to assist underserved children and said her son needs a fatherly presence in his life. She described Cano as having an "anonymous mindset regarding the baby."
She said Cano distanced himself from her late in the pregnancy and encouraged her to return home to the Dominican for the child's birth.
"His living circumstances, financially, socially and culturally, are very, very far from what the child's experiencing and gets," Castro said. "It's a very large gap. What hurts me most [is] he shows the world that he helps children, that he's a good person, he's very humane.
"So with something of his own, he may trick the world and everybody who sees him because he's the big star that he is, but there's a reality, which is a son who doesn't [receive] the quality of life he's supposed to."
Justine Gubar, a producer in ESPN's Enterprise and Investigative Unit, contributed to this report.
As Robinson Cano and his advisers prepare to seek a big money free-agent contract, he is part of an increasingly bitter child-support case in which the anticipated windfall is not lost on either side.