The complicated business of helping Cuban baseball talent find their way to the U.S., and eventually the Major League:
At some point — either before leaving Cuba or postdefection — every player needs a baseball agent. The seedier practitioners of this trade are often called buscónes, or searchers. Sometimes they bully clients into paying. ‘I’ve heard of agents who hold players at gunpoint,’ says Gus Dominguez, a Cuban-American from Los Angeles who has negotiated contracts for major-league Cuban exiles such as Rey Ordóñez and Yuniesky Betancourt. ‘I’ve heard of agents who threaten to break their clients’ legs or arms.’
Dominguez should know about the dark seams of the business. In 2006, he was indicted for smuggling ballplayers through Key West. The feds built their case on the word of a convicted drug trafficker who claimed Dominguez had paid him $225,000 — borrowed from major-league catcher Henry Blanco — for the work.