Two Cuban players defect during Caribbean Series
Shortstop Moreira, 30, and righty Gutierrez, 19, hope to pursue MLB careers
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Two players from Cuba's Pinar del Rio club playing in the Caribbean Series have defected, according to industry sources.
Shortstop Dainer Moreira, 30, and right-handed pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez, 19, left the team on Tuesday night to pursue careers in Major League Baseball. Multiple media outlets have reported the defections. Cuban baseball officials and tournament officials have not confirmed them.
"To this point, we have no official information about the situation in which two players from the Cuban team abandoned their delegation," the Caribbean Confederation of Professional Baseball said in a statement. "The Caribbean Confederation of Professional Baseball has no jurisdiction in this matter. It's something private for the players. If it occurred, it is under the jurisdiction of the Cuban Baseball Federation and they have no obligation to report anything to us, the Caribbean Confederation of Professional Baseball."
The 6-foot-1, 172-pound Gutierrez, the Serie Nacional rookie of the year during the 2013-14 season, did not play in the Caribbean Series, but he is considered the better prospect of the two. He went 5-5 with a 3.90 ERA during his rookie season, primarily pitching out of the bullpen. He's also sported a 2.45 ERA as a reliever during the current 2014-15 season.
Because he is not yet 23 years old and did not play in a Cuban professional league for at least five seasons, Gutierrez would be subject to MLB's international signing guidelines, under which each team is allotted a $700,000 base and a bonus pool based on the team's record the previous year to be used during the international signing period, which started last July 2 and ends on June 15.
Clubs are penalized if they exceed their bonus pools by certain amounts, and the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, D-backs and Angels have all exceeded their allotted money by more than 15 percent and are in the maximum penalty range for the upcoming 2015-16 signing period. The penalty includes a 100-percent tax on their pool overages and prohibits them from signing any pool-eligible player for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods.
The 5-foot-8, 178-pound Moreira went 2-for-4 on Tuesday against the Dominican Republic. He also drove in a run. He hit .332 in 277 plate appearances with 19 walks, and five stolen bases in 10 tries for Matanzas. Moreira is exempt from the international signing guidelines.
MLB will begin requiring a sworn statement that says a Cuban player is in compliance with Section 515.05 of Cuban Assets Control Regulations in order to sign with a Major League team.