The Pittsburgh Pirates are facing a lawsuit from a former prospect named Rudy Guzman, who played three seasons in the Dominican Summer League. He is suing the team for $10 M for “moral, social, psychological, professional, labor and economic damages” according to Diario Libre, who broke the story last week.
The only reason you’re hearing about the story now is because I stumbled upon the link on Wednesday morning while searching for something else Pirates related in Spanish links. As with any ongoing lawsuit, the team obviously isn’t commenting now on the situation.
According to the Diario Libre article, Guzman claims in the lawsuit that he failed to receive his bonus in 2014, which was originally $100,000, then lowered to $70,000. He points out that Rene Gayo originally convinced him to sign rather than join the military, then he convinced him to come back in 2015 after not receiving any payments. There were also other payments over the years that he claimed were not received. Four years of not getting his full payments led to Guzman eventually ending his pro career and hiring lawyers.
Besides the lawsuit, there is more to the story with Guzman. He was a gifted athlete, who unfortunately didn’t have the proper forms of identification to get a visa to come to the United States. That information was lost after a hurricane and subsequent fire destroyed his house years before he signed with the Pirates. Tim Williams talked to him during a trip to the Dominican in 2015 and had an in depth story of Guzman’s situation here.
Before he played any games for the Pirates, I heard reports from the Dominican about how talented he was, getting descriptions of a five-tool player with plus tools. A player I talked to in 2013 said that Guzman was the best player on the team and any other times I asked about him over the next three years, we heard about something impressive he did on the field. That later led to me often starting questions about the DSL team with “Besides Rudy Guzman, who is the best at (insert power/speed/arm/defense questions here)”. In that sense, it’s disappointing that he never got a shot to come to the U.S., because he was apparently a special player.
I can’t comment on the payments and what may have gone on there, but it was clear to me over the years that the Pirates really wanted to get him to the U.S. and see what he could do at a higher level of pro ball. His age always led to concerns of him just doing well in the league because he was much older than the competition, but relying just on that ignores everything that was going on with his life and also the plus tools he displayed on the field. Instead of seeing what he could do in the field, the Pittsburgh Pirates will see in January what his lawyers can do in a courtroom.