Update: Yankees sign Luis Torrens, Yancarlos Baez, and Alex Palma

The Soft Underbelly
7/2-7/4 Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays

The 2012 international free agent signing period officially opened today, and the Yankees have already made two big splashes. Ben Balder reports that they’ve signed 16-year-old Venezuelan catcher Luis Torrens for $1.3M and 16-year-old Dominican shortstop Yancarlos Baez for $650k. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement limits all teams to $2.9M in total signings (there are harsh penalties for excess spending), so the Yankees only have $950k left to spend.

Torrens, a 6-foot-0 and 170 lb. converted infielder, was ranked as the second best international prospect on the market this summer by Baseball America. The right-handed bat is said to have an advanced approach and the ability to hit the ball to all fields, though he’s more likely to have doubles power than over-the-fence power down the line. Torrens is still raw behind the plate, unsurprising considering his age and the fact that he was an infielder not all that long ago. That’s him in the video above.

Baez is listed at 6-foot-2 and 165 lbs., though he was not among Baseball America’s top 20 international prospects. He’s said to have very good speed and is “an athletic switch-hitter with good bat speed who could have an average hit tool, with gap power now.” Here’s video. The Yankees have been connected to two other top-20 guys — OF Alex Palma (#4) and SS Wendell Rijo (#10) — though it remains to be seen how the new spending limits will impact their ability to sign them.

Update: Balder reports that the Yankees have signed Palma for $800k, so they’re down to $150k in spending room. The 16-year-old Venezuelan outfielder is listed at 6-foot-2 and 200 lbs., and is said to have “a clean swing with good bat speed and [the ability to] barrel up the ball” from the right side. Balder says opinions are mixed out his power potential, but everyone agrees it’s at least average. Palma is expected to play right field long-term with solid defensive skills. Here’s video.

email
The Soft Underbelly
7/2-7/4 Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays
  • JohnC

    Very nice job by Yanks in getting these kids signed quickly. DOn’t think they have enough left though to sign Rijo, but looks like a good haul nonetheless

  • Dan

    Where do the int’l free agents generally start? They seem too young for the GCL, right?

    • crawdaddy

      The contracts they’re signing are 2013 contracts so they can’t start playing officially for the Yankees until Fall Instructs.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      These are all 2013 contracts. They might start in the GCL but could spend a summer or two in the Dominican.

  • 28 this year

    I am guessing that remaining 150k will be split up among more smaller bonus guys, like 10k, 20k and 50k guys. WIth the new restrictions, its amazing how quickly the pool drys up. I mean, the Yankees might walk away with only four or five lottery tickets, not as many as they had in the past.

    • Need Pitching

      For this signing period and the next, each club’s six highest bonuses equal to or less than $50k do not count toward the signing bonus pool. Any bonus $7,500 or less doesn’t count either.

      So technically, the Yanks could use the 150K anyway they want, and still sign 6 more kids at up to 50K.

      • Need Pitching

        oops, should have read the rest of the thread before posting

    • bobtaco

      Remember, Mo was signed as a free agent to a contract with a US$3,000 signing bonus ($5,337 today) on February 17, 1990.

  • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

    Kind of surprised the Yankees used up almost all their money on 3 players.

    Over recent years, it seems they have spread their money around more evenly rather than signing the most expensive guys but if they really like these players, I’m glad they were aggressive.

    Does anyone know what the penalty is for going about the cap?

    • Bo Knows

      comes out of next years int money I believe

    • Need Pitching

      a. 0-5% in excess of Pool—75% tax on all of the Pool
      overage.
      b. 5-10% in excess of Pool—75% tax on all of the Pool
      overage and loss of right to provide more than one
      player in the next succeeding signing period with a
      bonus in excess of $500,000.
      c. 10-15% in excess of Pool—100% tax on all of the Pool
      overage and loss of right to provide any player in the
      next succeeding signing period with a bonus in excess
      of $500,000.
      d. 15% or greater in excess of Pool—100% tax on all of
      the Pool overage and loss of right to provide any player
      in the next succeeding signing period with a bonus in
      excess of $250,000.

  • Bill

    So what are the personalities for going over and how did they come up with the pool number?

  • crawdaddy

    Can’t they go over 5% and only have to pay a tax for doing so?

  • neo

    They can go over by 5% and pay a 75% tax but no other penalty. If they decide to do that, they have $295K left.

  • neo

    Everyone had the same pool this year, here are the rules:

    Every team has a $2.9 million signing bonus pool for the 2012-13 signing period. Any team that spends more than $2.9 million will be subject to a variety of penalties:

    • Teams that go 0-5 percent over will pay a 75 percent tax on the overage.
    • Teams that go 5-10 percent over will pay the 75 percent tax on the overage and won’t be able to sign any player for a bonus of more than $500,000 in the 2013-14 signing period.
    • Teams that go 10-15 percent over will pay a 100 percent tax on the overage and won’t be able to sign any player for a bonus of more than $500,000 in the 2013-14 signing period.
    • Teams that go 15 percent or more over will pay a 100 percent tax on the overage and won’t be able to sign any player for a bonus of more than $250,000 in the 2013-14 signing period.

    • Tom

      This is key… there is NO limit on spending in the IFA; and it’s only slightly different than MLB payroll.

      If you are willing to spend money on tax, the only limit is the following year on the max money you can spend on one player…. However you can also spend as much money as you want if you do quantity over quality (and keep the signings below either 500K or 250K)

      I suspect when a quality prospect hits the IFA market, it will be clear there is no cap, just an annoyance.

      Teams can also do a binge purge cycle – crush the “limit” one year and then live with 500K/250K max signings the following year and then binge again the year after that. T

      • Need Pitching

        I was hoping the Yankees would binge this year, but I didn’t think it was likely. Things could change a bit next year, as it looks like they are headed towards an IFA draft in 2014, in which case the penalty for going over the cap next year would be loss of draft picks in 2014. That would probably act as more of a deterrent than the current system.

        • Need Pitching

          or I suppose it could act as impetus for teams to collect as much talent as possible before the draft goes into effect, loss of draft picks be damned.

  • DERP

    There is a little more information on Torrens and Palma here:

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/prospects/watch/y2012/

    I think this was published before the season so the stuff might not be too accurate.

    It also seems like Torrens is one of the younger guys from this crop. He turned 16 only two months ago.

  • neo

    One other note: “A team’s six highest signing bonuses of $50,000 or less will not count toward its total.”

    So, they can sign six guys at $50,000 outside of the cap.

    That info, and the bullet list I posted is from http://www.baseballamerica.com.....13345.html

    • Fernando

      Additional, each team can sign an UNLIMITED number of players for $7,500 or less. Normally might not get you much, but with teams limited to a 2.93 million cap there might be some value to be found here.

  • Jimmy McNulty

    I think the teams that actually spend money on the draft and in international free agency would hold Selig’s family hostage until they change the CBA.

    This is fucking bullshit.

    • Ted Nelson

      The Yankees just got two of the BA’s top 4 guys… They got another SS for a solid bonus. They can still spend $150k before giving $300k to 6 guys and then sign some cheap flyers and fillers… What is bullshit about this again?

  • Total Dominication

    They just signed someone younger than me for the first time. Feels weird.

    • kenthadley

      I know how you feel. This happened to me when the Yanks signed Ron Guidry……

      • neo

        You think you feel old… this is the first time they signed guys younger than my kids!!

        • kenthadley

          they did that to me 10 years ago

          • Cris Pengiucci

            Me too.

      • Mike Myers

        ha

        some of these kids were born after Jeter starting playing…

        • Voice of Reason

          Yup.

          Players being younger than me is old news, but now I’m seeing players who weren’t born yet during events I remember distinctly. 1996? C’mon.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Never trust anyone born after Kurt Cobain died.

            • blooper

              Kurt Cobain is dead?

    • Tyrone Sharpton

      Add 3 years just to be safe

  • neo

    Here is a surprise, Luis Torrens is on Twitter. You need to either be able to read Spanish or use Google translate. @LuisTorrens13

  • Januz

    I am glad they were able to get these guys signed quickly. I have to guess that Torrens and Palma were locked up early and whichever Shortstop (Baez or Rijo) would sign first, they would take. What is also interesting is the fact they did not elect to sign any KID (I stress the word kid instead of older pitchers from Latin America). Since like the draftm they have a fixed amount of $$$$ that they can spend there, I wonder if that is a clue that the remaining $$$ will be spent on Hensley and Dawe ?

    • Chip

      I think those two budgets are probably separate and don’t effect each other that much.

      • kenthadley

        I was at the stadium yesterday. At 9.50 a beer and 11.75 for a hot dog and a coke, I’m sure they have plenty of money for both draftees and IFA’s.

        • V

          If you wouldn’t pay that much, it wouldn’t cost that much. Supply and demand.

          • kenthadley

            I didn’t…and haven’t for many years….guess my impact on supply and demand doesn’t match your theory.

            • jjyank

              ?

              The budget has literally zero to do with food costs.

    • Ted Nelson

      They can still sign a guy or two with the $150k and then sign 6 more guys for $50k a piece. They’ll probably get a few arms in there.

      I would imagine it has more to do with where they thought the signable value was in Latin American than who they had drafted.

  • Tyrone Sharpton

    Always Venezuela and DR with major prospects it seems

  • Voice of Reason

    Hmmmm…

    I’d have to think that among 16 year olds in foreign countries, there are a few who’re really good, and then there’s a huge amorphous mass of what are really HS sophomores and juniors who aren’t special athletes, don’t know what they’re doing, or for whom there is no reasonably easy way to evaluate them thoroughly. The gap between the second tier and the chaff is likely hard to distinguish. So with that in mind I like this strategy of spending big on a few, and then taking a bunch of fliers.

  • DERP

    Is Torrens going to be the latest Yankee catching prospect with a great bat but questions as to whether or not he can stay at catcher?

  • JobaWockeeZ

    This is the one true facet of where this team can do no wrong.

  • yooboo

    IFA signings look good. This switch hitting SS is going to be a stud one but I think Yanks will force him to give up switch hitting in favor of right side after 2 or 3 years from 2013 season.

    Since tax rules are the same as the draft, 150k moves into the draft pool would be nice. heh

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I know nothing about IFAs except for what Axisa tells me, so welcome to the greatest franchise in sports. 100K bonus for any one of you three who can locate Melvin Crousett.

    • Bunt Gardner

      He’s a volunteer textbook editor/translator at TheDreamProject.

  • viridiana

    Seems like an awfully good haul to get the second and fourth best prospects when all teams have some budget cap. Nice job.

  • viridiana

    *same* budget cap

  • BK2ATL

    I like the aggressiveness and proper use of the Yankees’ brand. The ones or one (Rijo) who hesitated, appears to gotten left out.

    Torrens does sound like a Montero/Sanchez case of bat first, then glove. Or maybe a Posada-case of converted infielder-to-catcher bat.

    Whenever you can sign a #2 and #4 projected prospect on any list, you gotta think that’s a success haul. Being greedy, I wish they would’ve also signed Rijo (#10), since we could never have enough SS in line to replace Jeter. Wasn’t in the cards for him, so Baez will do.

    For the record, I know very little about these kids or this projected list.

  • Ted Nelson

    Seems like the IFA spending limits worked as intended and bonuses have come down pretty significantly. At this time last year the Rangers were signing every kid off the street who could hold a baseball for $4 million.

    Not that I put a whole lot of stock into amateur prospect lists, but definitely nice to get 2 of the top 4 and a big switch hitting SS. Now hopefully they find a Ravel Santana with the $150k and a couple of Nova’s with the $50ks.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Ravel Santana signed for only $80,000. Hopefully they can find two Ravel’s for $150,000

      • Ted Nelson

        $145k according to the bonus page here. $80k for Nova (but a lot of guys will probably artificially fall below $50k now).

  • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com Mike E

    In my opinion, it might make sense for the Yankees to concentrate their money on the IFA and the Draft every other year. For example, this year they will blow past their spending cap on IFA, and will be limited next year, but they can then spend all they want in the 2013 amateur draft. If they go all out in the draft, they’ll lose picks in 2014, but they’ll have the ability to again spend all they want in the IFA.

    It will work best in different years, but it might make the most sense now if the IFA is currently in a strong year, and they earn supplement picks from Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano next year.

    • Eric S

      Not a bad idea, though the IFA and draft classes would have to be deep enough in the budget-busting year to make it worthwhile.

    • viridiana

      Mike E for Yankee GM!!!

    • Need Pitching

      One problem with going all out in the amateur draft is they’d lose first round picks in the next 2 years. Also, baseball seems to be headed to an international draft in 2014, which would severely limit what they could do with international players going forward. I would have liked to see the Yankees blow through cap and go all out this year, but considering they really didn’t spend crazy on IFA’s with no penalties in the past, it was never a likely scenario.

      • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com Mike E

        Losing the first round pick for two years actually doesn’t both me too much. Considering where the Yankees draft annually, there isn’t a big enough difference between their first and second round pick.

        The issue with the international draft does become a problem, but I don’t think we’ll see it for a while. While it does help some small market owners save money, it hurts these players, agents, the front offices, and even those mid-tier team owners like the Blue Jays and Orioles who spend plenty on the IFA. I think the owners are going to realize how much the last CBA has affected their team and the international draft will lose popularity.

        • AP

          Considering the draft pick that the Yankees gave up for signing Teixeira turned out to be Mike Trout, I’m hesitant to agree with you. Also, Gerrit Cole.

          • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com Mike E

            Mike Trout is certainly the exception, but only because he wasn’t properly scouted by most teams.

            Guys like Gerrit Cole, Andrew Brackman, and Phil Hughes fell to the Yankees because of risk and money. With the new spending cap, the Yanks can’t take advantage of these types of players like they used to. With that said, there is no way a guy like Hensley falls to the Yankees’ second round pick, meanwhile Culvers and Bichettes will fall.

            • Ted Nelson

              Huh? The Yankees just did take advantate of that type of player with Hensley. Even if he doesn’t sign that makes him a Cole type of player.

              I don’t get all the blatant misinformatiom people spread about the CBA.

        • Ted Nelson

          The pick(s) you want them to spend big on to lose those picks will be as late or later than the firsts you call late. It’s really unlikely to be a good strategy.

  • viridiana

    Selig is a puppet of the small-market owners. Will do anything to rein in Yankees, even if it hurts the game. Latest CBA certainly screwed international prospects — surprised MLB hasn’t been sued yet.
    Hopefully, Selig will be long gone by the time his policies finally produce the Brewers-Royals World Series he pines for.

    • Ted Nelson

      Uh, Selig acts at the will of the majority of the owners. He’s not some evil genius. He could be fired tomorrow if 16 teams wanted him gone.

      • viridiana

        You missed the point there, Ted. There aren’t sixteen teams who want him out.Most of them benefit from his polices have been trargeted expressly against the Yankees, and perhaps a handful of other relatively big spenders (and I’ve heard this guy talk behind the scenes so I have an excellent sense of his motivation). And by the way, he personally put this Red Sox management in place– choosing them over a higher bidder in exchange for promises of support for his anti-big market agenda, whgich includes luxury tax, revenue sharing, draft spending caps, extra draft picks for the worst teams. Every single one of these has targeted the Yankees. It’s a simple fact.

        • TomH

          Well, what you say sounds correct in that it seems to accord with the facts of the situation. Who is to benefit from these arrangements IF NOT small market teams? What interests me is what cover stories are advanced when the rules are announced. What do they SAY is the reason for all these penalties, caps, etc.?

        • Ted Nelson

          MLB is an oligopoly that extends regional monopoly power to its franchises. One team should not benefit from its region being 20x larger than another. What outside of homerism is wrong with what the owners are doing by leveling the playing field? MLB is about as far from a free market as it gets, so please don’t try that card. I studied economics and am a capitalist.

          How much do you know about other major US sports?

          • viridiana

            You may have studied economics but your insights are at best pedestrian. All these attempts at “levelling the playing field” have essentially backfired by producing a run on high-priced free agents. Since good tems are penalized each year in the draft– and now have more trouble internationally too — the only way they can acquire top talent is to chase free agents. Selig has long since boxed the Yankees into a corner. The solution has been to spend on veterans. So Selig’s policies — designed to keep costs low for small market and mid-market teams — have actually resulted in escalating costs.Personally, I don’t object to some “levelling” efforts to improve the fortunes of weaker teams. Yes, give the worst team the top pick in the draft. But why not in the second and subsequent rounds go to a lottery system? That way a good team might at least luck out in later rounds. And it would add some excitement to the process. Byut that’s the sort of innovative thinking that eludes one-track Bud.

  • All Praise Be To Mo

    I thought I read something in the past with the new CBA that teams can trade for extra “cap space” to spend on IFA’s?

    • Need Pitching

      Yes, but that doesn’t start until the 2013-2014 signing period. Also, teams can’t acquire more than 50% of their original bonus pool.