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Blue Jays P Yariel Rodriguez Sued In Dominican Republic

 Leif Skodnick  |    Apr 24th, 2024 3:31pm EDT

Yariel Rodriguez of Team Cuba reacts while leaving the mound in the third inning during the 2023 World Baseball Classic Quarterfinal game between Team Australia and Team Cuba at Tokyo Dome on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Yuki Taguchi/WBCI/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Yariel Rodriguez is being sued in the Dominican Republic for $2 million by a man who brought the Cuban pitcher to the Dominican Republic so he could obtain free agency in Major League Baseball.

The plaintiff in the case, Raymel Martinez Chacon, helped Rodriguez get from Miami to the Dominican Republic following the 2023 World Baseball Classic, where Rodriguez pitched for Cuba. He originally planned to fly to Japan to pitch for the Chunichi Dragons in Nippon Professional Baseball but instead flew to Santo Domingo.

After reaching the Dominican Republic, Rodriguez obtained his release from the Dragons in October 2023 and was declared a free agent by MLB early the next month.

Initially, Martinez claims that he and Rodriguez had a deal in place that would pay Martinez and others 25% of any contract Rodriguez signed, according to a story in Diario Libre, a Dominican newspaper. That story states that the agreement was later amended to pay Martinez 5% of any contract Rodriguez signed.

On Feb. 9, the pitcher inked a five-year, $40 million contract with the Blue Jays, which included an $8 million signing bonus and an average annual salary of $6.4 million.

After the signing bonus was paid out, Rodriguez allegedly failed to pay Martinez, the Diario Libre reports.

Martinez is seeking enforcement of the agreement, which would pay him approximately $2 million, in Dominican court.

The native of Camaguey, Cuba, started the season with Triple-A Buffalo, making two starts and allowing one hit, three walks, and no runs while striking out 10 before being called to Toronto. With the Blue Jays, Rodriguez has allowed seven hits in 7.2 innings of work, walking three and allowing two earned runs.

In a similar case, former MLB outfielder Yoenis Cespedes was sued by Edgar Mercedes in 2013 for $7.9 million in the Dominican Republic, which the outfielder had agreed to pay Mercedes’ company, Born To Play, for helping him to escape Cuba and begin a career in MLB. A court in the D.R. ultimately ruled that Cespedes’ agreement with Mercedes was enforceable and that the outfielder had to pay Mercedes.

According to his LinkedIn page, Mercedes, who also assisted Rodriguez, is a Dominican Republic-based player agent and baseball operations advisor for the Aguilas Cibaenas of LIDOM.

According to the Diario Libre, Mercedes is one of several others who negotiated for a percentage of Rodriguez’s future earnings in exchange for services and assistance in getting the pitcher to the Major Leagues.

The first hearing in the case is scheduled for June 25, according to the Diario Libre.

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Leif Skodnick