At one point, you might have called David Wilder a renaissance man. In addition to owning six homes and “Phoenix’s top gay bar,” he was also the White Sox senior director of player personnel, in charge of Latin American scouting. How did he do it? Very corruptly, apparently.
The White Sox fired Wilder, who reportedly also lost $570,000 on his gay club venture, after an MLB investigation into allegations he was pocketing signing bonus money meant for his prospects. At least five cases have surfaced so far, and MLB sources said Wilder skimmed $200,000 from those contracts. Yikes. And you thought when they finally solved all this steroid business, all the scandals would just go away?
The Yankees and the Red Sox have also fired scouts implicated in this investigation, but since the CHICAGO TRIBUNE is the only rag to get off their asses and look into this, we have the most details from the White Sox camp.
One of those players who did sign for a large sum was Rafael Reyes, a 16-year-old outfielder who got a $525,000 bonus from the White Sox in 2007. Former White Sox scout Victor Mateo, who was fired along with Wilder and fellow scout Domingo Toribio, has told ESPN that Reyes’ uncle gave him $50,000 as a gift after the signing.
Mateo told ESPN he passed $45,000 of that on to Wilder.
Sadly this doesn’t seem to be isolated. As one source said, “It’s systemic within baseball.” And why not? The average bonus for a Dominican prospect has jumped from $15,000 to $110,000 in the last ten years.
So you’ve got cases like this, where Wilder allegedly either cut deals with the players to kick back some of their bonus, or misled the White Sox about the amount of money offered to the player, and pocketing the difference.
“Baseball is a private enterprise. As with any private enterprise, there are going to be thieves and whores,” [Dominican Baseball Commissioner Porfirio] Veras said. “But there has been an indifferent attitude toward this. And the ones who always pay are the athletes.”