We are now nearly two weeks removed from the beginning of the 2013 International Free Agent Signing Period. That means it’s time for an update on which players have signed and where. If you missed our piece on the Top 21 International Free Agents available or you need a quick refresher, you can see it here.
One of the first things to consider as you peruse the list below is that signing bonuses do not always correlate precisely with talent. The biggest confirmed bonus given out so far was given to our #18 prospect, Jose Virgilio Almonte. One of our top 10 prospects, Mayky Perez, signed for under $1,000,000. You could look at those (and other signings) and think our rankings are out of wack but the truth is the International Free Agent market isn’t quite like anything else. Not only are 15- and 16-year-olds very difficult to scout, you also have to factor in things that are impossible to quantify such as the trainers and agents with whom these players are aligned. Our rankings are based solely on pure talent with no weight whatsoever given to potential signing bonuses.
Also remember that teams are dealing with hard bonus caps this year, though they have the ability to trade for more (provided they trade for space before they run out). Teams also have the option of going over their bonus pool cap but doing so will result in penalties for next year’s IFA signing period. So first, let’s look at the total bonus pools available to the teams before any players were signed:
1. Astros $4,943,700
2. Cubs $4,557,200
3. Rockies $4,213,800
4. Twins $3,908,600
5. Indians $3,636,900
6. Marlins $3,395,200
7. Red Sox $3,179,900
8. Royals $2,988,100
9. Blue Jays $2,817,100
10. Mets $2,664,600
11. Mariners $2,580,000
12. Padres $2,500,800
13. Pirates $2,426,000
14. Diamondbacks $2,355,700
15. Phillies $2,289,700
16. Brewers $2,227,300
17. White Sox $2,168,300
18. Dodgers $2,112,900
19. Cardinals $2,060,600
20. Tigers $2,011,200
21. Angels $1,993,700
22. Rays $1,976,500
23. Orioles $1,959,400
24. Rangers $1,942,700
25. Athletics $1,926,100
26. Giants $1,909,900
27. Braves $1,893,800
28. Yankees $1,877,900
29. Reds $1,862,100
30. Nationals $1,846,900
And now, here are our Top 21 International Free Agents (along with nine prospects we listed as players to watch). If the prospect has signed with a team, the team is noted out from the player’s name. If the player’s signing bonus is known, it is noted in parentheses. One of the first things you’ll notice is that the very top players have not yet signed.
1. Rafael Devers, 3B, Dominican Republic – Boston Red Sox ($1,500,000)
2. Luis Encarnacion, 3B, Dominican Republic – Philadelphia Phillies ($1,000,000)
3. Eloy Jimenez, OF, Dominican Republic – Chicago Cubs ($2,800,000)
4. Leonardo Molina, OF, Dominican Republic – New York Yankees ($1,400,000)
5. Marcos Diplan, RHP, Dominican Republic – Texas Rangers ($1,300,000)
6. Mayky Perez, RHP, Dominican Republic – San Diego Padres ($634,000)
7. Gleyber Torres, SS, Venezeula – Chicago Cubs ($1,700,000)
8. Micker Zapata, OF, Dominican Republic – Chicago White Sox ($1,600,000)
9. Mikey Edie, OF, Venezeula – San Francisco Giants
10. Jen-Ho Tseng, RHP, Taiwan – Chicago Cubs ($1,625,000)
11. Luis Asuncion, OF, Dominican Republic – San Diego Padres ($350,000)
12. Erick Julio, RHP, Colombia – Colorado Rockies ($700,000)
13. Lewin Diaz, OF, Dominican Republic – Minnesota Twins ($1,400,000)
14. Yeltsin Gudino, SS, Venezeula – Toronto Blue Jays ($1,200,000)
15. Jose Herrera, C, Venezeula – Arizona Diamondbacks ($1,060,000)
16. Marten Gasparini, SS, Italy – Kansas City Royals ($1,300,000)
17. Jefferson Mejia, RHP, Dominican Republic – New York Mets ($850,000)
18. Jose Virgilio Almonte, OF, Dominican Republic – Texas Rangers ($1,800,000)
19. Yimmelvyn Alonzo, SS, Dominican Republic
20. Ricardo Sanchez, LHP, Venezeula – Los Angeles Angels ($580,000)
21. Luis Enrique Barrios, LHP, Colombia – Atlanta Braves
Players to Watch
Bryan Lizardo, 3B, Dominican Republic
Dayan Perez Olmo, OF, Dominican Republic
Jeremias Portorreal, OF, Dominican Republic – Pittsburgh Pirates ($375,000)
Anderson Franco, SS, Dominican Republic – Washington Nationals ($900,000)
Carlos Herrera, SS, Venezuela – Colorado Rockies ($1,200,000)
Jesus Lopez, SS, Nicaragua – Oakland Athletics ($950,000)
Yeyson Yrizarri, SS, Dominican Republic – Texas Rangers ($1,335,000)
Greifer Andrade, OF, Venezuela – Seattle Mariners ($1,050,000)
Nestor Tejada, OF, Venezuela – Houston Astros
Felix Osorio, 3B, Dominican Republic
The teams making big plays thus far have been the Cubs and the Rangers. The Rangers have signed #5 Marcos Diplan, #18 Jose Almonte, Yeyson Yrizarri, and Dominican shortstop Michael de Leon. The Rangers have spent well beyond their pool space. Further, since they didn’t trade for more pool space before inking total deals above their allotted pool space, they cannot now trade for more. That means, regardless of their assigned pool space for 2014, they will likely face a penalty prohibiting them from spending more than $250,000 on any player.
As for the Cubs, along with #7 Gleyber Torres, the Northsiders have signed Colombian pitcher Erling Moreno and appear to already have a deal in place with #3 Eloy Jimenez. However, Chicago is apparently in search of more pool space to sign Jimenez so they don’t face the same fate as the Rangers.
Eloy Jimenez, of course, is one of the top four players who have yet to sign. Two of those four, #2 Luis Encarnacion and #4 Leonardo Molina have yet to turn 16. However, Molina is rumored to have a deal in place with the New York Yankees. Similarly, #1 Rafael Devers has long been rumored to be signing with the Boston Red Sox.
Interestingly, the team with the largest bonus pool, the Houston Astros, has not been terribly active. In fact, they even traded part of that pool space to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for AA second baseman Ronald Torreyes.
For me, the best signing so far is easily the Padres’ grabbing #6 Mayky Perez for only $634,000. The Rangers gave $1,300,000 to #5 Marcos Diplan, who is certainly the more advanced prospect at this time but likely has a lower ceiling than Perez. Another signing I really like is the Mets’ signing of #17 Jefferson Mejia for $850,000. Mejia was considered less valuable because he is already 17 and previously lied about his age. However, Mejia is 6’7″, 220 pounds with a low 90s fastball, plus changeup, and an average curveball. A kid with that profile coming out of high school would be a highly coveted prospect.
We will continue to analyze the 2013 crop of International Free Agents as the signing period progresses. Make sure to check back for updates.
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