The Los Angeles Dodgers just finished steamrolling through the NL West en route to 104 wins, the best record in baseball and a hell of a shot at their first World Series since 1988. One of the team's top prospects, however, has a very different kind of fight on his hands in Miami.
Yadier Alvarez, a flame-throwing Cuban right-hander who represented L.A. at the Futures Game during July's All-Star Weekend in Miami, stiffed a South Florida shop out of $105,000 worth of custom-made jewelry he bought during the festivities, the company claims in a lawsuit filed in Miami civil court.
The store, the appropriately named Major League Jewelry Inc. in Weston, is asking a judge to enforce a $300,000 judgment against the young pitcher for damages and unspecified "slander" against the company.
"Alvarez has not tendered any money toward the balance of the jewelry and still retains possession of the jewelry," the store's attorney, Steven Lachterman, writes.
Alvarez's lawyer, Scott Simowitz, didn't respond to an email or a phone call about the lawsuit, which was filed August 15.
The Dodgers signed Alvarez out of Cuba in 2015 when he was only 19 years old but could already hit 99 mph on radar guns. One scout told Sports Illustrated he was "the best 18-year-old pitcher he'd ever seen." The Dodgers paid him like a star in the making, throwing a $16 million signing bonus at the prospect.
Alvarez has worked his way up through the minors, pitching his way to Double A this year and showing enough promise to fly to Miami July 9 to represent the Dodgers as a top future player at the All-Star Game. (SB Nation currently ranks him as the team's third best prospect.)
While he was in South Florida for the All-Star Weekend, Alvarez decided to load up on jewelry, according to the lawsuit. The pitcher turned to the Weston shop, which brands itself as "the first choice for sports stars and celebrities" for new pieces.
According to signed agreements included in the lawsuit, Alvarez bought $75,500 worth of necklaces and bracelets July 8 and then another $30,000 in jewelry four days later.
But Alvarez never paid up, the shop says. They sent a letter to the pitcher and his agent August 4 demanding the cash but to date have had no luck getting the money, they claim.
The young pitcher isn't the first MLB player to run afoul of payments to the Weston shop. Court records show that Major League Jewelry sued star Minnesota Twins ace Ervin Santana in 2014 for $40,000 in unpaid bills. That case was dismissed in December 2016.
The store also sued former lefty relief pitcher Renyel Pinto in 2010, around the time he was finishing up his MLB career with the Marlins. That case was dismissed in 2013.
Alvarez's attorney has yet to respond in court to the latest suit.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.