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Starlin Castro In Financial Dispute In Dominican Republic

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The Cubs shortstop is being sued over a contract signed by his father when Starlin was a teenager.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

This is one of the strangest contract lawsuits I can remember in baseball history, involving Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, as reported by Paul Sullivan in the Tribune:

Castro has had $3.6 million frozen in various bank accounts after refusing to forward 3 percent of his earnings to a representative of a development school in the Dominican Republic, his attorney and court documents said.

Documents provided by Castro's legal team Friday say his father, Diogene, signed a contract that committed a portion of the shortstop's career earnings in the major leagues to Manuel Nunez of the My Future Big Leaguer academy on Oct. 24, 2006.

Castro was 16 at the time.

Castro signed a seven-year, $60 million deal with the Cubs on Aug. 28, 2012 — which includes a $16 million option in 2020 — leading to a $1.8 million claim from the baseball academy representative. Under Dominican law, Castro's attorney said, authorities freeze double the claimed amount pending legal proceedings.

Castro and his representatives in the Dominican Republic say the contract is "illegal" and have filed a countersuit, according to Sullivan, asking for the deal to be nullified and for $5 million in damage to be paid to the Cubs infielder.

Castro's attorneys have filed a competing suit that maintains his father was advised it was essential to sign a contract with a representative for his son — and pay that person a portion of the signing bonus.

Castro's attorney said the agreement with the agent contained onerous stipulations that were not only illegal but were never discussed between the parties. The lawsuit says Nunez, through his attorneys, accosted Paul Kinzer, Castro's American agent, for payment in May.

It seems strange to me that any country would allow a deal like this to be legal -- to take a percentage of all of someone's career earnings. Instead, it sounds like someone unscrupulous taking advantage of a family who perhaps wasn't as aware as they might have been of what was legal and what wasn't. This likely sums up what's going to happen:

Robert Martinez, one of Castro's attorneys, said in a phone call from the Dominican Republic that the contract was "absurd and illegal … (in large part) because Dominican law prohibits a parent from promising anything from a child beyond 18 years of age."

According to this earlier article by Sullivan, Castro did pay a portion of his signing bonus to the school in the D.R. Castro signed with the Cubs for $45,000 on October 25, 2006.

It's an interesting story, but in the end, I suspect Castro won't be required to pay anything beyond what he's already given the D.R. school.