Cuban phenom Lazaro Robersy Armenteros Arango, better known as Lazarito, has been dropped by agent Charles Hairston following a death threat.
Speaking to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports, Hairston revealed Monday night that "the Dominican Republic-based investor who represents Lazarito" threatened his life. The agent declined to name the investor to protect the safety of his co-workers.
Per Rosenthal's and Morosi's report, the divide between Hairston's Culture39 agency and the Dominican Republic-based investor stemmed from the latter's "desire for Lazarito to sign with a team as soon as possible rather than wait until July 2."
Hairston also expressed his desire to continue working with Lazarito "when he comes to the United States once his situation is resolved," and his group has already lined up sponsorship and endorsement deals.
Under the terms of Major League Baseball's international free agency, teams have a set amount to spend when the period begins on July 2. With more than four months until the new period opens, clubs are still operating under last year's cap, meaning they have less money to spend now.
As a result, teams that have already gone over their allotted spending amount would be forced to pay a 100 percent tax on the total amount over the slot.
The international spending cap does not apply to certain players, but they have to be at least 23 years old and have accrued a certain amount of time in a professional league (Japan, Cuba, Taiwan, et al.).
Lazarito is still 16 years old, so he would fall under the international spending rules. He established residency in Haiti last May, was ruled a free agent by MLB in January and became eligible to sign with teams starting on Feb. 10, per Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com.
Listed at 6'2" and 205 pounds, Armenteros plays in the outfield. Cash Kruth of MLB.com wrote in December that the young phenom was drawing rave reviews from people around the sport, with one American League scouting director saying, "He's a great-looking kid with lots of tools, size, strength and potential."
Cuban baseball players have often been subject to dangerous circumstances given what it takes to get out of the country, especially before the recently changed dynamic between Cuba and the United States.
Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was on the receiving end of death threats from the human traffickers who arranged his escape from Cuba in 2012.
Hairston told Rosenthal and Morosi that "he secured an invitation for Lazarito to attend a team’s spring training camp and meet with its general manager and ownership, but that the buscon withheld the travel documents for both the player and his parents, making such a visit impossible."
Lazarito's talent has made him a sought-after commodity in MLB circles, but the situation involving Hairston and the buscon is something else entirely.