2013-14 International Prospects Rumors
Though he's yet to officially retire, 43-year-old slugger Jim Thome would like to be a big league manager at some point, writes Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times. Thome, who took a position in the White Sox' front office last summer, told Van Schouwen: "I want to look at what the next phase is for me getting back on the field, competing at a high level. There is a side to me that wants to manage someday and prepare myself for it if that opportunity came calling." More out of the AL Central as Spring Training picks up steam...
- Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes that one conversation three years ago changed Glen Perkins' future with the team entirely. The bad blood between Perkins and his hometown Twins was well documented, as he had been weighing a grievance against Minnesota regarding his service time. Perkins approached pitching coach Rick Anderson and manager Ron Gardenhire and simply told them he had no desire to play elsewhere. Anderson tells Souhan: "He came to me right here and said, ‘Can I talk to you? I was born and raised in Minnesota, I’ve spent my entire life in Minnesota, I want to be a Twin. I want to be a better teammate, I want to be a better pitcher, don’t give up on me.’" Perkins, a 2013 All-Star, has developed into one of the game's best closers since that time.
- The Twins have signed 18-year-old Australian first baseman Jack Barrie to a six-figure bonus, according to a report from Australian news outlet SBS. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN confirmed that it's a six-figure deal and adds that the team still has money left in its 2013-14 international free agent budget after the signing (Twitter link).
- In the latest edition of his "Hey, Hoynsie!" mailbag, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tells one reader that he would be "stunned" if the Indians made a late play for Ervin Santana. Though Cleveland's name has been connected to the former Angels and Royals hurler, Hoynes says that the team values its first-round pick too highly to make such a move.
- Jhonny Peralta was planning on appealing his suspension last season in order to remain with his teammates through the playoff push, writes USA Today's Bob Nightengale. However, when the club acquired Jose Iglesias from the Red Sox, Peralta says he "knew [he] had to take [his] suspension." Nightengale spoke with GM Dave Dombrowski, who told him: "We talked to his agent (Seth Levinson, at the time) and we knew he was thinking of appealing. There was a time I was thinking he was going to appeal. And at that point, we wouldn't have made a trade. But my gut told me the closer we got to the (trade) deadline, and talked to them, he wasn't going to appeal."
Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz and Cuban right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne held a showcase at the Padres' Spring Training complex today, MLB.com's Corey Brock tweeted earlier. Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reported (via Twitter) that more than 20 teams had scouts on-hand to see the pair. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Yankees, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Mariners, Padres and Giants were all there to scout Diaz (Twitter links). According to the San Diego Union-Tribune (on Twitter), Diaz could command as much as $20-30MM as a free agent. However, he is ineligible to sign until next week (Feb. 19) at the earliest. Here's more on the international market...
- Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets that Diaz could look to choose a club as soon as Friday or Saturday of next week.
- Sanchez adds that Diaz and Despaigne have also schedule four more showcases in Florida, beginning this weekend, in order to allow clubs whose Spring Training facilities are in that state easier scouting access. Despaigne's next showcase will come in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Saturday, according to Sanchez (Twitter links). The Rays' Spring Training complex is in Port Charlotte, for what it's worth.
- The Dodgers continued their aggressive approach on the international front today, signing 18-year-old Panamanian outfielder Carlos Mosquera, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (on Twitter).
- Cuba sent a team to the Caribbean Series in Venezuela for the first time since 1960, writes Baseball America's Ben Badler (subscription required and recommended). As such, Major League scouts flocked to the series in order to get a first-hand look at some of the talent. Badler says that most scouts left underwhelmed, but four players -- outfielder Alfredo Despaigne, second baseman Jose Fernandez, third baseman Yulieski Gourriel and right-hander Norge Ruiz -- each jumped out. Badler provides scouting reports for each, with the write-ups on Ruiz and Despaigne being lengthier than those on Fernandez and Gourriel. Previously, Badler has written that Ruiz, 19, is establishing himself as a rising star.
TODAY, 8:34pm: Hinojosa's deal is for $4.25MM, a source tells Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com (Twitter link).
TODAY, 8:37am: The Sox will pay Hinojosa a $4MM bonus, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweeted early this morning.
YESTERDAY, 9:54pm: The Red Sox have agreed to a minor league contract with Cuban right-hander Dalier Hinojosa, Baseball America's Ben Badler reports. Terms of the deal aren't known, but the signing bonus won't count against Boston's international spending cap since Hinojosa is 27 years old. Hinojosa is represented by Bart Hernandez and Praver/Shapiro.
The Sox were rumored to be interested in Hinojosa when he was cleared as a free agent last July. The Dodgers, Cubs and Yankees were also reportedly interested in the righty, who Badler says is projected by many scouts as a relief pitcher. Hinojosa throws "a slurvy breaking ball," a fastball in the 88-92 mph range, and another splitter/changeup-type of pitch.
Jeff Todd and Aaron Steen contributed to this post.
Here's the latest from the international prospect market...
- "Every team had someone" present at Jose Abreu's showcases on Monday and Tuesday, Baseball America's Ben Badler reports, but the Rangers, Red Sox, White Sox, Marlins and Giants had the largest presences. Badler reported a few days ago that the Rangers could be the favorites to sign Abreu, with the Red Sox, White Sox, Pirates and Nationals also strong contenders.
- The Giants were known to be interested in Abreu and they sent "an especially large crew" to his showcase that included GM Brian Sabeau, Felipe Alou and Pat Burrell. Badler finds this curious given that the Giants already have Brandon Belt, but he speculates that San Francisco could sign Abreu and then move Belt to left field to possibly shop him in a trade.
- As for the showcase itself, Badler said Abreu "didn’t seem to hurt his stock" as a right-handed hitting power bat. Abreu took a few grounders at third base though that may have just been as a test of arm strength, as Badler writes that Abreu is "almost certain to sign as a first baseman."
- The Astros have signed 16-year-old Bryan de la Cruz to a contract with a $170K bonus, Ben Badler reports. A 6'2", 175-pound outfielder from the Dominican Republic, de la Cruz has "good tools" and has shown "power potential" from the right side of the plate. De la Cruz is the ninth player signed by Houston since the international signing period opened on July 2.
A look at the latest on the international front...
- The Marlins made a bid for Cuban shortstop Alexander Guerrero prior to the 26-year-old's decision to hire Scott Boras as his new agent but were told that the bid wasn't competitive, according to Juan C. Rodriguez of the Miami Sun-Sentinel. The Marlins are no longer in the mix for Guerrero but still have interest in fellow Cuban Jose Dariel Abreu. However, the slugging first baseman would require an even larger commitment than Guerrero. Abreu is said to be looking for a larger guarantee than Yasiel Puig's seven-year, $42MM commitment from the Dodgers.
- The Twins have signed 16-year-old Dominican prospect Alexander Vargas, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. Terms of the deal are not known for the right-hander, who stands at 6-foot-3 and boasts a fastball in the low 90s, a curveball, and a changeup. In addition to the La Academia product, Minnesota has also inked Dominican outfielder/first baseman Lewin Diaz for $1.4MM and Dominican third baseman Roni Tapia for $550K during this signing period.
Masahiro Tanaka's name continues to generate buzz with each game he pitches in Nippon Professional Baseball. The 24-year-old currently boasts a 20-0 record with a 1.24 ERA, 7.7 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9 in 181 innings for the Rakuten Golden Eagles. Here's more on Tanaka and the international prospect front...
- Ben Badler of Baseball America cites a story from Japanese media outlet Sponichi in reporting that the Diamondbacks, Braves, Mariners, Red Sox and Yankees were among the teams with scouts in attendance for Tanaka's most recent start. Tanaka whiffed 11 hitters in a complete-game effort, yielding two runs on seven hits and a pair of walks, Badler adds in his subscription-only game report.
- The Rangers signed 16-year-old Dominican infielder Yimmelvyn Alonzo for $350K, according to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez (Twitter link). Over at BA, Badler points out that because Texas is already 15 percent over their spending pool, the Rangers will have to pay a 100 percent overage fee, meaning Alonzo essentially cost them $700K. Sanchez writes that Alonzo has some of the best raw power in this year's class of international prospects, though scouts are split on whether or not he can stay at shortstop. Some feel he will ultimately end up in the outfield or even at first base as he continues to grow.
Many international players have generated quite a bit of buzz, which should lead to some hefty paydays when they become available to Major League clubs via free agency. Jose Dariel Abreu, Alexander Guerrero and Masahiro Tanaka are just some of the big names that could jump to the Majors next year. Here's the latest on the international market, with updates on each of those three...
- The Mets signed Dominican outfielder Ricardo Cespedes for a $725K bonus on his 16th birthday over the weekend, Baseball America's Ben Badler reported. Badler writes that Cespedes has a good, loose swing and a nice gap-to-gap approach with the speed to start his pro career as a center fielder. As Badler notes, the Mets have spent a total of $2.465MM, so they still have some room in their $3.025MM international bonus pool.
- In a subscription-only piece, Badler also profiles Tanaka's most recent start in Japan, during which he whiffed eight hitters over seven scoreless innings to improve to 18-0 and drop his ERA to 1.15. Badler notes that Tanaka has "arguably the best splitter in the world," and reached 97 mph with his heater on his 108th pitch of the night. Tanaka would have to be posted by the Rakuten Golden Eagles to make the jump to MLB.
- Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports that Abreu's lofty price tag will likely lead the Twins to "loosely monitor" him rather than become serious players for his services. He adds that the Twins are still in on Guerrero but not as deeply as other suitors (Twitter links).
The Rangers' lead in the AL West has been built on taking care of business within the division, as Texas has a 41-16 record against division opponents and a 33-37 record against the rest of baseball. Other AL teams may complain that the Rangers and A's gained an extra advantage when the rebuilding Astros were moved into the division, but Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram points out that it's really the Angels' surprising decline that has made the AL West so lopsided. The Halos expected to contend this season but instead have the seventh-worst record in baseball and only a 19-35 record against inside their division.
Here are a few items from around the AL West...
- Also from Galloway's piece, he notes that the Rangers rate four Astros starting pitchers as "double-plus prospects" but a Rangers source wonders if the young starters' development is being harmed by Houston's league-worst bullpen. “The owner down there [Jim Crane] needs to get off his wallet and spend some money for some veteran bullpen guys next season,” the Rangers source said. “Those kid starters have a future, but they are being beaten up mentally by pitching well and never getting a win out of it.” Houston manager Bo Porter recently said that the Astros will look to add relief pitching help this winter.
- The Angels will try to reload after their disappointing 2012 but they'll have little payroll space to maneuver, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez notes. The Halos already have $126.5MM committed to the 2014 payroll and $111.725MM committed for 2015, and that's not counting raises for notable players who will become eligible for arbitration.
- How much would (or should) a team pay for Mike Trout's 2014 season? Fangraphs' Dave Cameron tries to calculate what Trout's single-season value would be worth if the Angels outfielder was suddenly a free agent and could only pursue a one-year deal for next season.
- The Rangers and Cubs both far exceeded their international bonus pool limits this summer and will face only limited penalties for it, a move that Baseball America's Jim Callis suspects could be copied by others. "More teams may try to exploit that loophole until an international draft closes it," Callis writes.
- If MLB.com's Jane Lee could undo any move from the Athletics' offseason, it would be the decision to let Jonny Gomes leave in free agency, Lee writes as part of a reader mailbag. Keeping Gomes would've allowed the A's to keep Cliff Pennington (rather than deal him in the trade that brought Chris Young to Oakland) and thus improve the club's infield depth and save some payroll space at the same time.
The Red Sox don't yet have a scouting report on Cuban slugger Jose Abreu, GM Ben Cherington tells WEEI's Dennis and Callahan Show (via Alex Speier of WEEI.com). "We just don’t know him well enough yet," Cherington says. "And of course until he’s gone through the process of getting cleared and all that, there’s really not much to say. As with any player that comes out of Cuba and has a chance to help us, we’ll certainly do the work that we need to do." With Mike Napoli set for free agency, the Red Sox could easily clear space for Abreu at first base, and they also have the money to make a competitive bid for a player who's likely to receive the biggest contract ever given to an international free agent, so the Red Sox appear likely to give Abreu a close look. (Since Abreu is 26 and has many years of experience in a Cuban professional league, he is not subject to rules regarding international bonus pools.)
Here are more notes on international signings.
- Abreu may do tryouts as he moves toward a deal with an MLB team, but he doesn't really need to, Baseball America's Ben Badler tweets. Teams already have access to plenty of information about Abreu, Badler argues.
- The Cubs decided to splurge on international spending this season because they had the second-largest international bonus pool, MLB.com's Carrie Muskat reports. Another factor in the Cubs' thinking was their belief that there wouldn't be an international draft in 2014. That means they'll be taxed at 100 percent of their pool overage if they go 10 to 15% over their pool value, and they won't be able to sign any international free agent for more than $500K. "Next year, we'll spread our money around with some pitching instead of going after the large investments. We like the large investments this year," team president Theo Epstein says. The Cubs have spent a total of $7.895MM on Dominican outfielder Eloy Jimenez, Venezuelan shortstop Gleyber Torres, Taiwanese pitcher Jen-Ho Tseng, Dominican pitcher Jefferson Mejia, Colombian pitcher Erling Moreno and Dominican catcher Johan Matos.
- The Nationals' signing of Dominican third baseman Anderson Franco for $900K is part of an effort to become more aggressive in Latin America, the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore reports. A scandal resulting from the Nationals' 2006 signing of a 16-year-old shortstop named Esmailyn Gonzalez -- later revealed to actually be a 20-year-old shortstop named Carlos Alvarez -- led to the departures of then-GM Jim Bowden and special assistant Jose Rijo. Since signing Gonzalez/Alvarez for $1.4MM, the Nationals had not spent more than $385K on a Latin American free agent, Kilgore notes.
The Nationals have signed Dominican third baseman Anderson Franco for $900K, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. Badler had ranked Franco as the No. 29 prospect in this year's crop of July 2 international free agents, and MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez ranked him 16th.
The 6'1", 185-pound Franco became eligible to sign today -- his 16th birthday. Badler writes that Franco's best tools are his raw power and strong arm, adding that he's shown the ability to be a strong defender at third base. Sanchez writes that Franco has drawn praise for his bat speed, footwork at third base and power displays in batting practice. Some scouts, according to Sanchez, believe Franco to be a sleeper who could ultimately end up as the best player from this year's class. Detractors worry about his pitch recognition and a swing that can get long at times.
Franco is the final player from Badler's Top 30 list to sign a deal, though a few players from Sanchez's Top 30 remain unsigned.