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Los Angeles Dodgers implicated in S.I. report on Department of Justice investigation

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A blockbuster Sports Illustrated report indicates that the Los Angeles Dodgers could be in the crosshair of the D.O.J. in an investigation of international free agent signings

Colorado Rockies v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Dodgers are in the center of a Sports Illustrated report on the ongoing Department of Justice investigation into major league baseball teams’ recruiting and signing of international free agents. The SI report indicates that the investigation, which as at a point where there is testimony and evidence being submitted to a federal grand jury, significantly focuses on Cuban defectors who have to obtain citizenship in another country before they are eligible to sign with another team.

There are significant details in the article, which is worth reading, but particularly noteworthy are excerpts from an early-May, 2015, email exchange with all identifying information redacted, discussing efforts to get a player interviewed for residency in Haiti after a bad interview in the Dominican Republic, as well as a reference to a November, 2015, exchange between two Dodger executives about needing to shred an MLB contract signed by a player before he was cleared by MLB to negotiate. In November, 2015, the Dodgers signed Cuban players Yusniel Diaz and Omar Estevez, with Diaz since being sent to Baltimore in the Manny Machado trade. There’s also a chart included in the article, purportedly created by the Dodgers, identifying on a 1 to 5 scale how corrupt and/or criminal various employees of the team were in their dealings in Latin American free agency.

This is a huge deal, particularly in the wake of the Atlanta Braves being sanctioned severely for illicit behavior in Latin America, and their general manager, John Coppolella, being banned from MLB for life. The Dodgers could potentially be subject to major sanctions in the form of players being declared free agents, limits on their ability to sign international free agents, and executives being suspended or banned, if this turns out to be true. I would wager that other teams are likely to be caught up in this investigation, as well.