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Two international prospects are reportedly suing the Los Angeles Angels in Dominican Republic court, alleging the MLB organization backed out on verbal agreements to sign them. 

Lawyers for Willy Fañas and Keiderson Pavon had an Aug. 31 hearing to continue their lawsuit that alleges the prospects agreed to deals with the Angels worth $1.8 million and $425,000, respectively, per ESPN. 

At the time, Fañas was 14 years old and Pavon was 15. A change in the organization’s front office led to those deals falling through. 

A video exists showing Angels employees telling Pavon that they plan to sign him, ESPN reported. 

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Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., during a MLB regular season game July 31, 2022.
(Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Fañas, a switch-hitting outfielder, is seeking $17 million while Pavon, an infielder, is asking for $4.25 million.

“I felt really good with them,” Fañas told ESPN. “I don’t know how they could’ve done that.”

There are very limited regulations by the league when it comes to scouting and signing international prospects, which is why those from countries like the Dominican Republic “reach handshake deals” at a young age. But those deals cannot become permanent until they are 16 years old, putting Pavon on the cusp of that while Fañas was two years away. 

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The signing date was supposed to be Jan. 15, 2021, but the Angels backed out less than a month before that date. 

“If these players don’t present this claim to a judge, it will be repeated,” Jose Jerez, a lawyer representing the prospects, told ESPN. “It’s a matter of conscience. It’s important. People need to know this kind of agreement exists. If this does not have consequences, it will continue happening in the future. If Major League Baseball doesn’t force the teams to honor their agreements, this judgment won’t necessarily stop the practice, but it’ll be precedent. That’s what we’re pursuing — a precedent.”

An MLB baseball before a game between the Seattle Mariners and the Chicago White Sox at T-Mobile Park Sept. 6, 2022, in Seattle.
(Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

The Dominican justice system puts more stock in verbal agreements than courts in the United States. If a judge deems verbal agreements binding, that landscape will change entirely. 

“We understand that the law is on our side,” Jerez said. “Our clients didn’t make any violations of their obligation, and they have completed all their obligations. Anaheim, they changed their position unilaterally without our consent.”

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There could have been a solution to cases like these when MLB was negotiating its latest collective bargaining agreement with the MLB Players’ Association. An international draft was brought up but never agreed upon. 

Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno answers questions during a press conference to introduce Anthony Rendon at Angel Stadium of Anaheim Dec. 14, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif.

Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno answers questions during a press conference to introduce Anthony Rendon at Angel Stadium of Anaheim Dec. 14, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif.
(Kiyoshi Mio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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Fañas and Pavon have since turned 16 and have both signed elsewhere. Fañas landed with the New York Mets, who employ ex-Angels GM Billy Eppler, for $1.5 million in January 2022. Pavon signed with the Texas Rangers for $150,000. 

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