Major League Baseball isn't playing fair with pro-caliber Mexicans, claims David Gonzalez Camacho, a trainer with roots in both Tijuana and San Diego and the father of former Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.
Gonzalez describes himself in a superior-court complaint as a trainer and promoter of "young, talented and high caliber Mexican baseball players" who seek roles in both minor and major league baseball in the United States.
Though he's not a plaintiff, most of the complaint revolves around the story of Daniel Pesqueira, who hired Gonzalez as his agent in 2010.
In February of 2012, Gonzalez secured a spring-training tryout for Pesqueira with the Boston Red Sox (for whom Adrian was playing at the time), including a visa that allowed him to travel for that purpose. According to Gonzalez, his client fit in well with the club and was impressing scouts when he was sent home in March after being told that he was under contract with the Mexico City Red Devils, a Mexican major league team, and that any contract negotiations would have to be handled through the club that owned his rights.
U.S. baseball has long enjoyed an array of sometimes-controversial antitrust exemptions. It is not uncommon, for example, for major league teams to pay Japanese teams for the "right" to recruit their players; and in the Mexican leagues, teams can retain as much as 75 percent of a player's first U.S. contract as a commission.
For an example, Gonzalez cites Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Luis Heredia, who signed in 2010 for $2.6 million, $2 million of which was retained by the Veracruz Red Eagles, who held his Mexican league contract. By comparison, Gonzalez’s agreed fee of 30 percent of his client's earnings sounds quite reasonable.
The problem is that, according to Gonzalez and Pesqueira, there was no contract with the Red Devils. Pesqueira claims his signature on a two-page, boilerplate "contract" that did not specify terms of his employ was falsified, possibly lifted from a medical release he signed when invited to workout with the team.
Regardless, American teams continue to refuse to negotiate with Pesqueira except through the Red Devils. Gonzalez says it's a civil conspiracy intended to interfere with Mexican players' economic rights, one that's kept Pesqueira from training with or playing for any teams due to the refusal of American teams to deal with him.
Major League Baseball moved to dismiss a similar suit aimed at the league last year, stating that Gonzalez’s dispute, and Pesqueira's, was with the Mexican leagues.
Gonzalez re-filed last week, this time including Major League Baseball, its affiliates, and the office of the commissioner. The National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the Asociación de Equipos Profesionales de Béisbol de la Liga Mexicana, and Minor League Baseball are the named defendants. He's seeking more than $10 million in damages.