Identity Fraud Still A Problem For MLB

Tyler Kepner of the NY Times had an interesting article that discussed the ongoing problem of identity fraud in major league baseball.

When Sandy Alderson traveled to the Dominican Republic in 2010 to investigate identity fraud for the commissioner’s office, he went armed with a message. Alderson had previously served as the chief executive of the San Diego Padres, and related his experiences.

“I had personally been burned on a number of occasions by identity fraud,” said Alderson, now the general manager of the Mets. “One has to ask if one is prepared to make the same investment again. If you get burned too often, you may decide to go elsewhere. I think that hit home with them.”

Baseball has become so entrenched in the Dominican Republic, and nearly every team has an academy there now.

But fraud has become so widespread that more and more teams were becoming concerned about expending so many resources in what has become an increasingly risky proposition.

Alderson said the government in the Dominican Republic had been more vigilant in response.

“I think they have come to realize that baseball is an important contributor to their economy in a variety of ways; you can kill the golden goose,” Alderson said. “I think they understand that it’s important for them to create an attractive environment for baseball to continue to invest in their country.”

Age fraud continues to plague Major League Baseball. Recently Cleveland Indians right-hander Fausto Carmona was arrested for using a false identity. Turns out he is 31 years old, not 28, and even his name was fake.

Melissa Seguera of Sports Illustrated says the reason they lie is simple, bigger signing bonuses.

Check out the following chart:

Since 2003, 16-year old players from the Dominican Republic have averaged about $120,000 more in bonus money than 17-year olds. That’s about triple the bonus, and when you look at players 18 and up the difference is exponentially greater.

Ironically, it’s the older teenagers that end up making it to the majors. Here’s the age breakdown:

So here comes the gut punch, Mets fans.

SI tracked down the bonus data for all the players in the study and discovered that Fernando Martinez, who was recently cut by the Mets, was the only player to receive a seven-figure bonus.

The teenage hitting machine was signed in 2005 for a hefty $1.3 million dollars.

It figures.