Highly regarded Cuban outfielder Alfredo Despaigne has been suspended for life by the Mexican League for using a falsified passport to play in the country, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America. The announcement will not affect his status should he attempt to play Major League Baseball in the future.
Despaigne, 28, played for the Mexican League’s Campeche Pirates in the past as part of a special agreement with the Cuban government, which typically doesn’t let athletes compete professionally outside the country. However, in order to skirt legal concerns regarding the embargo of Cuba, Despaigne used a Dominican passport to play in the league.
In May, the Mexican League temporarily suspended Despaigne after receiving word that the passport was fraudulent, an accusation that’s since been confirmed by Dominican authorities. That’s led to the lifetime suspension, a punishment also levied to the Pirates’ team president, Enrique Rosado.
A future in MLB for Despaigne, one of the best players in Cuba, won’t be affected by this development, though. According to Badler, while MLB recognizes the contract rights of the Mexican League, it “does not have have any agreement to honor Mexican League suspensions. The Mexican League is an associate member of Minor League Baseball, but it is an independent league.”
That means American baseball won’t be upholding the suspension handed out by the Mexican League, leaving Despaigne free to follow in the footsteps of current stars like Yoenis Cespedes, Jose Abreu and Yasiel Puig, should he make that decision. Teams would surely line up to make offers for the power-hitting outfielder.
After joining the Pirates in late April, Despaigne batted .346/.407/.603 in 20 games with the team. During the Cuban season, which ended in March, he led the league in OPS with a .311/.474/.533 batting line in 254 plate appearances.