The Washington Nationals' top instructor in the Dominican Republic failed to disclose to his superiors that the prospect the organization had signed to a team-record $1.4 million bonus in 2006 was neither who he claimed nor the age he purported to be, according to court testimony obtained by SI.com.
Alvarez also told the court that
Alvarez made his statements during a case involving a labor dispute between Baez and the Nationals. Alvarez's testimony proved critical in the appeals court's Aug. 30 decision in favor of the team, and it may be helpful to FBI investigators who are examining if any team officials knew of the fraud or profited from it. As SI.com previously reported, MLB and federal authorities have been looking into the relationships between Baez, a mentor to both Rijo and
In April 2009 Baez filed a wrongful termination suit against the Nationals. An employment judge last October ordered the Nationals to pay Baez nearly $75,000. The Nationals launched an aggressive and costly appeal. Said team president
Baez, however, remains steadfast in his denials of any wrongdoing in the Gonzalez case. "I'm going to show they did a dirty job," says Baez, who also says that he will take his case to the Dominican's supreme court. He claims that Alvarez told him of the identity switch on Feb. 10, 2008, and that later that same day Baez informed the team that they had been duped.
Getting a player to testify marks a significant win for MLB's nascent investigative team. Alvarez's testimony, according to the verdict, played a crucial role in overturning the lower court's ruling. "Given the witnesses above, it appears there was sufficient proof to terminate," the appeals court decision states. Says
Alvarez also testified that he heard other prospects talk of having to pay Baez portions of their signing bonuses -- a violation of MLB rules.
Baez provided SI.com with an email dated Feb. 1, 2008, from Nationals scouting director