So Perez flew to Mexico, arranged for the players' release from detention, and signed them both to Miami Sports Consulting. He was flush with fresh Cuban talent that month: He had also signed pitcher Onelki García, whose 95-mph fastball would be lauded by Sports Illustrated. Perez claims García contacted him on Facebook upon defection.

With those studs in his stable, Perez's negotiating tactics became a bit strange. On January 20, he told New Times that the Oakland Athletics were ready to bid a whopping $18 to $20 million for Balaguer's services. The next week, after the team denied making any offer, Perez called in a huff. "I never said that," he claimed of the contract amount. And it was the Seattle Mariners, not the A's, who were now hooked on Balaguer.

That same month, El Nuevo Herald cited an anonymous source who claimed the A's and Yankees were interested in Adonis García. Once again, both teams publicly denied that report.

Eighteen-year-old Cubs prospect Yasiel Balaguer is the target of a potentially explosive lawsuit.
C.M. Guerrero / The Miami Herald
Eighteen-year-old Cubs prospect Yasiel Balaguer is the target of a potentially explosive lawsuit.
Carlos Perez claims to have nothing to do with his Cuban baseball clients' defections.
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Carlos Perez claims to have nothing to do with his Cuban baseball clients' defections.

And despite Perez's claim that he spoke to Balaguer only after the player left Cuba, a potentially explosive new lawsuit might provide evidence to the contrary.

Baseball players are about the only Cuban defectors for whom American residency is undesirable. Once declared residents in the States, they are forced to enter Major League Baseball's amateur draft, where their contract is at the mercy of one team. Establishing residency in a third country allows them to enter the league as free agents — hopefully sparking a bidding war. So by February 2011, Perez says, he had arranged a visa and plane tickets for Balaguer to depart South Florida for Venezuela.

But Balaguer never showed up at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to catch the flight. Laments Perez: "A month later, I found out that he never left Miami."

Instead, Balaguer had jumped ship. He had chosen another agent: Jaime L. Torres, an attorney with offices in Boca Raton and Chicago and Cuban clients including Contreras, Chicago White Sox infielder Alexei Ramírez, and White Sox prospect Dayán Viciedo.

With Torres negotiating, Balaguer finally signed with the Chicago Cubs organization in December 2011. His contract is for the very earthly figure of $400,000 over one season.

On January 18, Perez sued Balaguer for breach of contract, claiming the kid had racked up $200,896.91 in expenses, payable now that he had signed his first professional contract.

Perez filed an expense report in court. It includes shopping trips to Sports Authority, Midway Sports, BrandsMart, and Rooms to Go, as well as some vague expenses: $1,067 for "pasaje a Texas" and $5,000 (or "$2,500 por cada uno") for "dinero enviado para traslado hacía la frontera" — money sent for transport to the border.

According to his own court filings, Perez also spent $40,000 on Balaguer in August 2010. That's three months before the agent says the player defected. Torres, the competing attorney, believes Perez has criminally implicated himself by filing the suit. "He's attempting to recuperate from Balaguer," Torres says, "what he paid to smuggle him into the United States."

Confronted with that claim, Perez responds, "If it's like that," he says, pounding on his desk, "then all the agents who represent Cubans should be in jail!"

Perez's attorney, Darren Heitner, threatens a defamation suit against Torres for the accusation. "My client has said many times that he is not involved in any way in Yasiel coming to the United States," Heitner says. "If the state is concerned in any way, the state can lead its own investigation, and that would be a criminal matter."

As to the discrepancy concerning the $40,000 expense before Balaguer's apparent defection, Heitner declines to comment: "I'm not concerned with the date that Balaguer came over."

But Perez's business model gets even flimsier. During an hourlong interview at his office, New Times asks if he is certified by the Major League Baseball Players Association — a requisite for officially representing MLB athletes.

Perez answers repeatedly, "Claro." Of course.

But as a reporter stands up to leave, Perez suddenly comes clean: "I am not certified as an agent at the moment." He adds that he applied for certification but was rejected and that he just needs a bit more experience.

The MLBPA, which doesn't disclose its reasons for rejection, confirms Perez was turned down.

In any case, Perez says he's a long way from recouping the half-million dollars in purported credit recorded on the whiteboard in the corner of his office. In July 2011, Sports Illustrated reported that paperwork establishing Onelki García's residency in Nicaragua had been falsified. That August, Adonis García was also deemed ineligible for free agency for the same reason.

And Onelki García ditched Miami Sports Consulting for another agent, convicted felon Gus Dominguez, who is barred from representing baseball players but still works as a "consultant" for a Los Angeles agency. Dominguez says the pitcher, who declined to be interviewed for this story, is still awaiting a decision from Major League Baseball as to his eligibility.

But Perez says he'll next sue Onelki García for the $80,000 in expenses he's owed. "Jaime Torres stole me a baseball player," he raps in broken English. "Gus Dominguez stole me a baseball player. Everybody stole me a baseball player!"

Michael E. Miller and Nicky Diaz contributed to this report.

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Carlos Perez is the typical con artist........I have dealt with him in miami he is all promises and he never comes thru.......there is a reason why he is not a licensed agent it's because he is a thief......Adonis Garcia,Onelkis Garcia, and Yasiel Balaguer all had to go to other agents to get signed because Perez doesn't know what he is doing......He is a typical flim flam man!!!! 


Interesting article...but it would have been nice to give credit to Antonio Prohias, the Cuban-born cartoonist who created Spy vs Spy, the obvious inspiration for your cover illustration. Prohias political satire in the Cuban press forced him to escape to New York to avoid arrest by Castro. Readers of a certain age will remember his work for many years in MAD magazine.

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Without self knowledge, without understanding the working and functions of his machine, man cannot be free, he cannot govern himself and he will always remain a slave.

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