Mayo: Yankees are “looking closely” at Julio Pablo Martinez and Yunior Severino

According to Jonathan Mayo, the Yankees are “looking closely” at Cuban outfielder Julio Pablo Martinez and Dominican infielder Yunior Severino. This is obviously in response to suddenly having $3.5M in international bonus money to spend after getting rejected by Shohei Ohtani.

Martinez, who Mayo says has a showcase scheduled for Friday, left Cuba earlier this month and is said to have been one of the top young players on the island. The 21-year-old hit .297/.345/.449 with seven homers and 20 steals in 57 games this past season. Here is a piece of Ben Badler’s scouting report:

At around 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, Martinez is a lefty with a promising combination of power and speed … Based on his present ability, he’s probably ready to go to a high Class A or Double-A team.

For what it’s worth, Eric Longenhagen said Martinez “profiles as a fringe regular who hits in the bottom of the lineup and plays a solid center field” back when he saw him in 2016. Martinez still must establish residency and be unblocked by the Office of Foreign Assets Control before he can sign, but Badler says that should happen at some point before the 2017-18 international signing period ends June 15th.

Severino, 18, is one of the 13 former Braves prospects who became a free agent after the team was punished by MLB for their international impropriety. He hit .270/.345/.420 (121 wRC+) with three homers in 58 rookie ball games this summer, during his pro debut. Here’s what Longenhagen had to say about Severino recently:

Signed for $1.9 million out of the Dominican Republic, Severino is a switch-hitting middle infielder with surprising power for his size. Scouts think his long-term defensive home is second base and are skeptical about his long-term ability to make contact. He takes big, violent swings.

Per MLB’s terms, Severino gets to keep his $1.9M bonus, and can receive a new bonus when he signs with a new team. Every penny over $200,000 will count against the hard cap, though teams can choose to apply it to next year’s hard cap space, if they choose. Severino and the other Braves prospects are free to sign starting tomorrow.

It’s unclear whether the Yankees are interested in Kevin Maitan, the big name prospect no longer with the Braves, though I imagine they’ll check in. That $3.5M is a nice chunk of change. Now that Ohtani is off the table, expect the Yankees to invest that money in other international players, like Martinez and Severino and Maitan and others. They won’t let it go unused.