Update (Sept. 6th): More from Badler. The suspension is a result of “falsified documents,” and technically it’s not even a suspension. The term “suspension” is reserved for players under contract, so Paniagua is considered “unable to sign.” His $1.1M deal with the Yankees was not yet official because he hadn’t secured a visa. MLB VP Kim Ng confirmed that they’re listening to Paniagua’s appeal and the the ruling is not yet final. Either way, it seems like a long shot that the Yankees will get their guy.
Original Post (Sept. 1st): Via Ben Badler, MLB has suspended Dominican righty Juan Carlos Paniagua and voided his contract with the Yankees. He agreed to a $1.1M bonus back in March. The reason for the suspension is unknown, and Badler says MLB won’t even tell the Yankees what’s going on. Paniagua is appealing the punishment, but it’s his second suspension after getting caught up in some identity and age fraud stuff two years ago.
The 20-year-old Paniagua had previously gone by Juan Collado and even agreed to a $17k deal with the Diamondbacks in 2009. He apparently picked up some big time velocity (sitting 93-95 touching the high-90’s according to Badler) while serving his suspension after the deal was voided. I have no idea what happens next, but the contract has been voided, so that’s pretty clear. Meanwhile, VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman confirmed to Badler that right-hander Rafael DePaula (who agreed to a deal worth $700k in November) is still working to get a visa so his contract can become official.