SAN FRANCISCO -- Through his agent, Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig declined on Wednesday to respond to an article by Los Angeles Magazine detailing the Cuban defector's harrowing journey to the Major Leagues.
"I'm aware of the recent articles and news accounts," Puig is quoted in a release provided to the Dodgers by the agent, Adam Katz. "I understand that people are curious and have questions, but I will have no comment on this subject. I'm represented on this matter, and I'm only focused on being a productive teammate and helping the Dodgers win games."
Puig is in his second Major League season, having signed a seven-year, $42 million contract with the club in the summer of 2012 after a workout in Mexico, where Puig set up residency so he could reap a free-agent windfall. Puig signed days before an MLB rule change went into effect that would have capped his pay at a fraction of what he received.
The L.A. Magazine article portrays Puig as the focal point of human trafficking and kidnapping that is commonplace for Cuban defectors. It also claims the 23-year-old was held captive in Mexico -- and received death threats -- from traffickers under the control of a Mexican drug cartel.
Through court records and interviews, the article claims that a Miami man, Raul Pacheco, agreed to pay smugglers $250,000 to get Puig out of Cuba and that, after signing, Puig would owe Pacheco 20 percent of his future earnings.
Puig and three others left Cuba in a speed boat that headed for the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, where they were held against their will by the traffickers seeking six-figure ransoms for their release.
Some of the documents cited in the article come from a $12 million lawsuit filed against Puig and his family by one of the alleged intermediaries in his escape, who is currently serving a seven-year prison term in Cuba.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less