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Nationals Sign 16-Year Old Dominican Anderson Franco

The Washington Nationals reached into the Dominican Republic to sign 16-year old third baseman Anderson Franco for $900,000.  This could signal the Nationals’ commitment to be more aggressive in signing Latin American players.

“Ownership wants to be more aggressive,” said Johnny DiPuglia, the Washington’s head of Latin American operations.

The bonus the Nationals gave Franco is the largest one since they awarded 16-year old shortstop Esmailyn Gonzalez $1.4 seven years ago.  The problem with Gonzalez was that in reality he was 20-year old Carlos Alvarez.  Oops.

The Alvarez fiasco resulted in GM Jim Bowden resigning and his assistant, Jose Rijo, being accused of taking a $300,000 kickback from Alvarez in a lawsuit filed by the Nationals with an Insurance company.

Having been bit by the Alvarez mess, Washington understandably pulled back from investing in Latin American players.  The largest bonus they have doled out in recent years was the $385,000 they paid outfielder Luis Guzman.

But lets face it, Latin American is rich with talented baseball players and if a team wants to compete at the highest level in the major leagues, they have to be active in signing players from that part of the world.