As media reports encourage added confidence that the Cowboys will get Dez done and that the Mavericks are closing in on DeAndre, the doors swing wide open today for baseball teams to sign potential impact players, though they’re the type you might read about only in Scott’s reports for the next few years.
The 2015-16 international signing period opens today, allowing clubs to come to terms with 16-year-olds (generally speaking) who reside outside the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico — that is, players not subject to the June draft, with some restrictions.
Baseball America reports that the Rangers have a $2.1 million deal with Dominican switch-hitting center fielder Leodys Taveras, a player it ranks as the number three overall prospect in this year’s international class. Jesse Sanchez (MLB.com) and Jon Heyman (CBS Sports) confirm the reported bonus.
BA’s Ben Badler tweets that Taveras (whose cousin Willy played in the big leagues) has “a sweet swing and a chance to have five average to plus tools. He’s a good athlete with a well-balanced combination of speed, arm strength, and projectable power.” Some projected this spring that it would take $3 million to sign the 16-year-old.
The Rangers have also signed Venezuelan outfielder Miguel Aparicio, according to BA. Sanchez reports that the left-handed Aparicio gets $500,000.
Teams are assigned bonus pools that, similar to the June draft, give the worst team from the previous season the most to spend, and the best team the least. There are taxes assessed on teams exceeding their pool, but more significantly those teams are prohibited from paying more than $300,000 to any pool-eligible players for the next two years. Five teams exceeded their pools in 2014-15 and thus are limited accordingly this year and next: the Angels, Diamondbacks, Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees.
Texas blew past its $1.9 million pool in the 2013-14 signing period, spending over $8 million on righthander Marcos Diplan, shortstops Yeyson Yrizarri and Michael De Leon, outfielder Jose Almonte, and others — but that year the penalty only restricted spending for one following season.
This year the Rangers, coming off the third-worst record in the league, are allotted $4,586,600 to spend internationally.
(Teams can trade for up to an additional 50 percent of their pool by acquiring other teams’ international slots, but I’ve seen no reports that Texas made any such deals, which could conceivably increase its pool to as much as $6,879,900. Notably, the five above-mentioned teams who are basically on the sidelines this year are able to trade their international slots . . . even though they can’t use them to sign any players for more than $300,000.)
Over the past couple months the Rangers have also been tied to Dominican outfielder Jonathan Sierra, Dominican middle infielder Cristian Inoa, and Mexican League pitcher Rodolfo Garcia, as well as Bahamian shortstop Lucius Fox, though Fox reportedly has a $6 million deal this morning with San Francisco.
In most cases these players will develop in relative obscurity for a couple years, but recognize that Diplan, for instance, signed with Texas two years ago today for $1.3 million — and after spending 2014 with the Rangers’ Dominican Summer League club and not even showing stateside other than at spring training and fall instructs, he keyed the Rangers’ deal with Milwaukee this past January for Yovani Gallardo.
This is an extremely important day as far as the pipeline is concerned.
Stay tuned to Scott’s reports and mine for any updates.