Boras defends alleged financial improprieties

Accused the day before of the plying the worst kind of business – buying up clients and their downtrodden families in the Dominican Republic – agent Scott Boras on Tuesday afternoon said the story being told about him is backward.

“This,” he said, “is a goodwill story.”

The Players Association, which spoke briefly with Boras on Tuesday, could see it otherwise, though an official said Tuesday the organization would not be commenting “at this time.” The commissioner’s office, according to an official there, “Will certainly look into it.”

Regardless, Boras said, “We did something we’re proud of. We have a young man who’s playing baseball who otherwise wouldn’t be.”

While in the background one of his sons pounded baseballs in a batting cage, Boras recounted his history with Edward Salcedo, the 19-year-old shortstop from La Vega in the Dominican Republic, a Boras client for the better part of four years and the central figure in a New York Times article that alleges possible financial improprieties by Boras and his employees.

Signed as a Boras client in 2006, Salcedo agreed in 2008 to sign with the Cleveland Indians for $2.9 million, but had that contract voided due to visa issues brought about by suspicions he was older than his claimed 16. Two years later, following various identity checks and bureaucratic entanglements, Salcedo signed with the Atlanta Braves for $1.6 million. In between, Boras said, his agency loaned Salcedo and his family $70,000, which he said was administered for living and legal expenses and within union regulations, and would be repaid by Salcedo with “nominal” interest.

“This poor kid,” Boras said, “his career was on the line.”

The Times article raised the ethical question of whether Boras was exploiting teenaged Dominican prospects, Salcedo among them, and if he had adhered to Players Association rules – loans from agents to clients must be cleared by the union – in those relationships. Major League Baseball and the union fear such loans could be manipulated to retain clients against their will.

Boras argued Salcedo was already his client at the time of the loans, which initially he believed the loans would be repaid from the Cleveland bonus, and when that fell through he felt obliged to help the family pay the fees of attorneys sorting through Salcedo’s identity issues. In that manner, he said, he saved Salcedo from the usual Dominican “corruption issues” of Buscones, loan sharks and bonus skimmers.

“I believed him,” Boras said. “I believed in the kid. And we were right.”

To date, Boras said, he has not been repaid the loan – which he said the family requested a year after it hired Boras – and has not collected his usual percentage of the signing bonus.

“We’re here helping somebody revive his career,” Boras said, “and doing so legally and appropriately pursuant to the MLB rules.”