Archive for International Free Agents
Via Ben Badler (subs. req’d): The Yankees are the “most likely landing spot” for Dominican outfield prospect Leonardo Molina once this year’s international signing period opens on July 2nd. They have $1.18-1.88M to spend internationally this summer, depending on whether there is free agency or an international draft.
Molina, who has no relation to the Puerto Rican-born catching trio, is the top prospect in the Dominican Prospect League and one of the best athletes available this year. He is listed at 6-foot-2 and 170 lbs., and Badler says he’s a “plus-plus runner with a strong arm, giving him the tools to be an excellent defender in center field once he refines his routes.” Molina offers good bat speed from the right side but he needs to refine his swing a bit to tap into his offensive potential. He can’t sign until he turns 16 on August 1st, but is likely to land a seven-figure bonus once eligible.
Thursday: Badler says all 30 teams were also assigned international “slot” values, indicating a worldwide draft may be forthcoming. There are 120 slots (four rounds) and the Yankees are allotted $1,177,900 total, including $487,200 for their first pick (28th overall).
Tuesday: Via Ben Badler: The Yankees have a $1,877,900 international spending pool this summer, the third lowest in baseball by virtue of having the third best record in the league last year. The Astros, meanwhile, will have just under $5M at their disposal. The international signing period officially begins on July 2nd.
Every team was allocated $2.9M for international players last summer, which the Yankees spent on the first day of the signing period on three players: C Luis Torrens, OF Alex Palma, and IF Yancarlos Baez. The spending pools are scaled based on the previous year’s record now, though there has been plenty of talk about a worldwide draft lately. Either way, the Yankees used the international market to build their farm system for decades because of the ability to spend freely, but that ability has now been taken away. That isn’t good for anyone, especially the players.
Tuesday: Buster Olney says MLB is willing to give up “significant concessions” to the union to make a worldwide draft happen. That could mean increasing the minimum salary, requiring less service time for arbitration eligibility, stuff like that. I don’t understand why the owners want this so bad.
Monday: Via Eric Fisher: MLB and the players’ union are hoping to strike a deal for a worldwide draft by June 1st of this year. If that doesn’t happen, the international spending pools implemented by the Collective Bargaining Agreement will kick in for the summer. (h/t MLBTR)
Fisher describes the spending limits as a “poison pill” designed to push the idea of a worldwide draft. The logistics are pretty nightmarish, but hey, MLB has a wonderful track record when it comes to well thought out and not at all half-assed plans to fix issues that aren’t broken. Anything to stop investing money into the future of baseball, I guess.
The Yankees relied on the international market to build their farm system for decades. The ability to spend freely gave them a natural advantage because they had more money than everyone else, plus the global appeal of the Yankees brand practically sold itself. The team used the international market to produce scores of big leaguers and trade chips over the years.
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement, implemented last winter, changed that. Teams were given a $2.9M spending pool to spend internationally last summer, with rather harsh bonuses for exceeding that amount. The Rays became the first team to exceed the pool and get hit with penalties according to Ben Badler, so they won’t be allowed to sign any players for more than $250k this year. Clearly, MLB has achieved its goal of keeping big spenders like the Rays in check.
Anyway, the Yankees spent almost their entire $2.9M pool on three 16-year-olds — Venezuelan catcher Luis Torrens ($1.3M), Venezuelan outfielder Alex Palma ($800k), and Dominican shortstop Yancarlos Baez ($650k) — last July 2nd, the first day of the international signing period. You can read more about those three players right here. There’s a good chance Torrens will make his stateside debut with the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League affiliate this summer. Palma might as well.
The Yankees spent their last bit of pool money on 16-year-old Nicaraguan left-hander Corby McCoy, who signed for $150k. The team also used a $50k exemption — each club gets six — to sign 17-year-old Nicaraguan lefty Luis Garcia. McCoy is the better prospect, but he’s a pure projection guy at 6-foot-3 and 170 lbs. His fastball sits anywhere from the mid-80s to low-90s, and his breaking ball is very much a work in progress. Garcia’s another big guy — listed at 6-foot-4 and 185 lbs. — with mid-80s heat.
New York was able to do quite a bit of damage before the spending restrictions kicked in on July 2nd. The largest bonus they agreed to hand out went to 18-year-old Cuban left-hander Omar Luis Rodriguez. He signed for $4M, but back in December we heard the contract was still pending a visa and not yet official. Listed at 5-foot-11 and 205 lbs., Rodriguez has a five-pitch mix — 88-92 mph fastball and mid-70s curveball, plus a cutter, slider, and changeup — and throws plenty of strikes. He stands out for his poise on the mound and has a strong track record in international play.
Ben Badler (subs. req’d) says the Yankees signed two other Cubans as well. One was outfielder Adonis Garcia ($400k), who spent time with Double-A Trenton last year. You can read more about him right here. The other was 27-year-old outfielder Yeral Sanchez, whose $400k bonus did not count towards the spending pool because of his age. Badler says he “has a chiseled 6-foot-1 frame with an aggressive approach and solid power … is around an average runner with an arm that’s average to a tick above-average that should play in right field.”
Prior to July 2nd, the Yankees also signed 23-year-old Dominican right-hander Manolo Reyes ($600k) and 17-year-old Dominican shortstop Jorge Mateo ($250k) according to Badler. Reyes had previously signed with the Braves, but his contract was terminated and he was suspended for a year because of issues with his paperwork. He has a huge arm though, running his fastball into the mid-90s and touching 99. His breaking ball and splitter are inconsistent but have shown potential. Reyes is awaiting a visa before his contract can become official, so he hasn’t been able to pitch in official games and is very raw for his age.
Mateo is listed at 6-foot-0 and 185 lbs. He earns high grades for his speed and athleticism, which give him a chance to be an above-average defender at shortstop according to Badler. Mateo is a right-hander hitter with something resembling a plan at the plate, but he’s still learning how to handle breaking balls. Badler says his “athleticism would make him an exciting prospect if his bat develops” while noting that some actually preferred him over Baez.
Dominican lefty Carlos Diaz, 17, signed for $100k last March, then got hit with a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a banned substance. He is listed at 6-foot-2 and 170 lbs., and Badler says he has “an unconventional low three-quarters arm angle (that) gives him good armside life on his fastball, which parks in the high-80s and reaches 90-91.” His slider and overall control need work.
The Yankees used two of their other exemptions to sign 19-year-old Dominican right-hander Simon DeLaRosa ($50k) and 16-year-old Venezuelan shortstop Thairo Estrada ($49k). DeLaRosa pitches in the low-to-mid-90s with a promising curveball while Estrada has a line drive swing and fast-twitch athleticism. Badler calls both guys potential sleepers.
Starting this year the pool values will be scaled so that teams with bad records can spend more while teams with good records get to spend less. The Yankees finished with the third best record in baseball last season and are expected to have just $1.5-1.7M to spend internationally this year, which is nothing. Those six $50k exemptions are going to be important, they’re going to have to dig up some hidden gems with them.
Via Ben Balder: Cuban left-hander Omar Luis Rodriguez is stuck in Haiti and has not yet been able to acquire a visa. The Yankees agreed to sign the 20-year-old for $4M this summer, their final big money international signing before the new spending restrictions took effect. The contract is pending a visa, as usual.
Balder notes that the delay is not surprising. He says Haitian documents are notoriously unreliable, and it’s also well-known that Rodriguez was living and working out in the Dominican Republic for several months. Players must submit either an unblocking license from the U.S. Office of Foreign Asset Control or two permanent residency documents to sign with a big league team. Hopefully this doesn’t drag out and Rodriguez isn’t stuck waiting 16 months like Rafael DePaula.
Via Sanspo (translated article): The Nippon Ham Fighters will select 18-year-old right-hander Shohei Otani in the first round of the NPB draft tomorrow. Otani, who Ben Badler (subs. req’d) says is one of the top high school prospects in Japan, has already said that he wants to join an MLB team this winter.
The NPB draft is nothing like the MLB draft — every team can select the same player, then his rights get awarded through a lottery. Chad Moriyama explained the whole crazy system. Balder reports that Otani would still be able to sign with an MLB team even if an NPB club drafts him, but the two leagues have an gentleman’s agreement in place preventing them from poaching each other’s amateur players. Otani could instead ask his club to post him a la Yu Darvish and Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Via MLBTR: Right-hander Shohei Otani will forego the NPB draft in Japan and instead sign with an MLB club this winter. The 18-year-old checks in at 6-foot-4 and 190 lbs., and he can reportedly run his fastball up into the high-90s. The Red Sox, Rangers, Dodgers, and Orioles are all said to have interest.
Because of his age, Otani will be subject to the spending restrictions implemented by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Yankees spent almost their entire $2.9M allotment on essentially three players on the first day of international free agency back in July. Otani will surely command a seven-figure bonus, which means New York would have to forfeit future spending power to sign him. I wouldn’t count on him waiting until next July — when the new year’s pool money kicks in — to sign either.
Via Ben Badler, the Yankees have signed two left-handed pitching prospects out of Nicaragua. Corby McCoy, 16, signed for $150k as one of the top pitchers in the country. Badler says the 6-foot-3, 170 pounder sits anywhere from 85-91 with the fastball while also throwing a rudimentary breaking ball. The other player is Luis Garcia (age not listed), who signed for only $50k. He stands 6-foot-4, 185 lbs., and sits 85-88 with the heat.
The Yankees did most of their international heavy lifting on July 2nd, signing C Luis Torrens ($1.2M), OF Alex Palma ($800k), and SS Yancarlos Baez ($650k). That left them with just $150k in spending cap room, which went to McCoy. Each club gets six exemptions of no more than $50k, which is what they used to sign Garcia. As far as we know, they have five exemptions remaining.
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.
The 2012 international free agent signing period opens on Monday, though this year every team will be limited to $2.9M in bonuses thanks to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Like the draft, there are harsh penalties for exceeding that amount. Next year the spending pool will be based on the standings, so the more you win the less you get.
Ben Badler published a list of this summer’s top 20 prospects, though you need a subscription to read the scouting reports. Both Badler and Enrique Rojas say the Yankees are expected to sign Venezuelan catcher Luis Torrens (#2 prospect) to a sizable deal. They’ve also been connected to Venezuelan outfielder Alex Palma (#4) and Dominican shortstop Wendell Rijo (#10). You can read more about Torrens and Palma here while Balder describes Rijo as a strong runner with power and tremendous baseball instincts, though he may wind up at second base due to his weak arm.
The Yankees have signed Cuban southpaw Omar Luis Rodriguez ($4M) and Dominican right-hander Manolo Reyes ($600k) in recent weeks, their last chance to spend freely before the cap hits. They also made an aggressive offer for Jorge Soler ($25-30M).