5:05pm: Badler has an updated scouting report on Morejon and some details on the contract. Morejon’s deal is structured as a 2017 contract, according to Badler, so he won’t play in any official games for San Diego this year. Rather, he’ll spend the next two months pitching in simulated games at the Padres’ academy in the Dominican Republic and then report to the instructional league in September. The structuring of the contract means that they’ll have an extra year before it’s necessary to add him to the 40-man roster as protection from the Rule 5 Draft. Despite his youth, Morejon could be pitching for one of the Padres’ Class-A affiliates next season, Badler adds. The free report has plenty of additional info on Morejon and some quotes from an international scouting director, so it’s well worth a full read-through.
3:55pm: The Padres have agreed to a deal with Cuban left-hander Adrian Morejon that will pay the 17-year-old an enormous $11MM bonus, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (via Twitter). Morejon was formally declared a free agent by Major League Baseball just yesterday. Baseball America’s Ben Badler wrote back in May that the Padres were the favorites to sign Morejon, and Sanchez said the same yesterday when reporting that Morejon had become eligible to sign.
San Diego has already soared past its league-allotted bonus pool, meaning that they’ll pay a 100 percent luxury tax on the signing. As such, Morejon effectively costs the club $22MM. The Padres last week signed 10 of international prospects (including a few of the top names on this year’s market), and while the terms of each agreement aren’t yet available, those expenditures topped $12.5MM. Morejon’s bonus is far and away the largest of the bunch.
Morejon was absent from the rankings of Sanchez and Badler due to the fact that he wasn’t technically a free agent when those reports were published. However, Sanchez notes in his tweet that he’d have ranked Morejon as the No. 2 prospect on this year’s market, and Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen agreed when ranking the international prospects on Fangraphs’ sortable scouting board. Longenhagen’s projections give Morejon the chance to have three plus pitches — fastball, curveball and changeup — with above-average command. He currently sits 89-92 mph with his heater and tops out at 94, per Longenhagen, though given his age, he’s of course quite a ways from realizing that potential. Badler called him one of the best Cuban players available to MLB clubs back in February (Morejon had already left Cuba but was not yet a free agent at that point), writing that scouts to whom he spoke believed Morejon to be a more promising prospect than the considerably more-talked-about Lazaro Armenteros.
The Padres were allotted a bonus pool of $3.347MM, meaning they’ll be faced with more than $20MM worth of luxury tax penalties even if their spending stops today. Given the aggressive nature of their run at this year’s crop of international talent, though, it seems unlikely that the Padres will call it a day right now. They’ll be barred from signing any international amateurs for more than $300K in each of the next two signing periods due to their overspending, so it makes sense to continue to aggressively pursue talent between now and June 15, 2017, when the current international signing period comes to a close.