AP source: Rangers add shortstop lost by Braves in scandal
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) The Texas Rangers have signed free-agent shortstop Yenci Pena, one of the players taken from the Atlanta Braves as punishment for circumventing international signing rules, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Saturday.
The agreement comes after the Rangers missed out on Japanese star Shohei Ohtani, who chose the Los Angeles Angels on Friday. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal hasn’t been announced.
The Rangers had one of the largest amounts of international bonus money for the pursuit of Ohtani at more than $3.5 million. They can spend that money on other international players.
The 17-year-old Pena is from the Dominican Republic and was among 13 prospects the Braves lost when former general manager John Coppolella was banned for life by Major League Baseball last month.
Commissioner Rob Manfred said MLB’s investigation determined the Braves funneled extra signing bonus money to five players in 2015-16 by giving the funds first to another player considered a foreign professional under baseball’s rules and having the money redistributed to the other five.
If the money had been counted for the other five, the Braves would have exceeded their pool by more than 5 percent and been restricted to signing bonuses of $300,000 or under for international amateurs through June 15, 2019.
Because of that, MLB voided the contracts of nine players the Braves would have been ineligible to sign. Pena’s $1.05 million deal was among them.
Three other players the Braves signed were set free because Atlanta gave additional money to their agents by signing others to deals with what MLB called ”inflated” bonuses. A contract with South Korean shortstop Ji-Hwan Bae was rejected because of compensation outside the deal.
Pena played 45 games last season for the Braves’ rookie-level Gulf Coast League affiliate, hitting .230 with two home runs and 19 RBIs.
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