What’s worse: that the Nats gave a big signing bonus to a guy who has been found out to be four years older than they thought he was, or that the guy wasn’t even all that good to begin with:
A top Washington Nationals prospect and recipient of the largest international signing bonus in team history is not who he appeared to be. Esmailyn Gonzalez, who is listed as 19 years old on the team’s roster, is actually 23-year-old Carlos Alvarez Daniel Lugo, four sources have told SI.com.
The Nationals, owned by the Lerner family, gave the shortstop from the Dominican Republic a $1.4 million signing bonus on July 2, 2006, and trumpeted his arrival as a sign of their commitment to acquiring top-tier talent. (Players from Latin America are not subject to the draft and can sign with the team of their choice.) “This signing is symbolic of the Lerner family’s and incoming club president Stan Kasten’s pledge to become an industry leader in scouting and player development,” Washington general manager Jim Bowden said at the time of the deal.
Gonzalez’s signing, however, immediately drew suspicion from baseball insiders. There was considerable skepticism about the team’s description of him as a five-tool player. “He doesn’t run all that well, and has an average arm,” an executive with another team said this summer.
The Texas Rangers were the next highest bidder for Gonzalez, offering only $700,000.
Sometimes I toy with the idea of really getting into Nats baseball because (a) I used to live in and love D.C.; and (b) the field is wide open — no one could accuse me of being a front-runner. But then I realize how demoralizing it would be to have to follow a team with such an inept front office. I mean, even the Braves were making a lot of good and interesting decisions back when they were losing 100 games a year.
Where’s the light at the end of the tunnel for Nats fans?