Leonardo Molina Rumors

Yankees Sign Leonardo Molina

The Yankees have signed 16-year-old Dominican outfielder Leonardo Molina for a $1.4MM bonus, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America. Molina, who ranked as the No. 5 international prospect according to both BA and MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez, had to wait until August 1 to sign, as he just turned 16 years old today.

Back on July 1, Badler wrote that Molina arguably has better raw tools than top international prospect Eloy Jimenez, praising his plus-plus speed and strong, accurate arm from center field (subscription required). In a separate tweet, Badler adds that some teams actually preferred Molina to Jimenez.

Sanchez agreed with Badler's praise in his scouting report for MLB.com, noting that Molina is arguably the best athlete in this year's international class and had the ceiling of a five-tool center fielder if he can harness his ability. Both agree that his hitting ability isn't as advanced as his defensive game to this point.

Previously, the Yankees biggest international expenditure of this period had been Dominican shortstop Yonarius Rodriguez, who signed for $575K. Those two bonuses add up to $1,975,000 — a number that exceeds the Yankees' allotted bonus pool by $97,100. While that may seem like a small overage, it's actually 5.1 percent above their bonus pool, which would put them into the second penalty bracket for exceeding their pool. Teams that exceed their pool by five to 10 percent must pay a 75 percent tax on the overage and are ineligible to sign a player in the 2014-15 class for more than $500K.

Of course, the reported numbers aren't final, and it seems highly unlikely that the Yankees would overcommit by a margin as small as $3,000. I'd imagine the number comes in under five percent, unless the team isn't done spending and is simply willing to accept penalties by signing more players, as we've seen with the Cubs.

Yankees Notes: A-Rod, Gonzalez, Devers, Molina

The Yankees dropped a 4-2 result to the Orioles tonight, giving the Bombers an 11-16 record in June and extending their losing streak to five games.  Here's the latest from the Bronx…

  • Alex Rodriguez and Yankees GM Brian Cashman shared some harsh words this week but team president Randy Levine told ESPN New York's Ian O'Connor that the Yankees both want and "need Alex back" as soon as possible.  "We are desperate for his right-handed power, and he's better than any third baseman on this team right now," Levine said.  "Alex is going to help us.  Obviously, it's no secret that we're struggling against left-handed pitching, that our whole offense is struggling, and that we've had very, very serious injuries….Any semblance of A-Rod would help us. Even last year's A-Rod would be a big upgrade over what we have right now."
  • The Yankees have scouted Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez but won't pursue signing him, George A. King III of the New York Post reports.  One scout tells King that it "looks like the Dodgers" will sign the 26-year-old, echoing rumors that the Dodgers are willing to "go all out" to acquire Gonzalez.  
  • Also from King, the Yankees are interested in two players from the Dominican Republic: third baseman Rafael Devers and center fielder Leonardo Molina.  The Yankees have been considered to be the "most likely suitor" for the 15-year-old Molina, while the Phillies and Red Sox have also been linked to Devers.

Latest On July 2 Players

The July 2nd international signing period is less than two months away.  Every team had a $2.9MM bonus pool for 2012-13, but as Baseball America's Ben Badler outlined here, the 2013-14 pools "will be tiered based on reverse order of 2012 major league winning percentage."  The Astros, Cubs, and Rockies each have at least $4.2MM to spend, plus teams can trade for additional money.  The Twins, Indians, Marlins, and Red Sox each have more than $3MM to spend, while the Royals and Blue Jays are close to that figure. Badler has the latest on ten prospects who are expected to sign for at least $1MM apiece.

  • The highest bonus is likely to go to Dominican outfielder Eloy Jimenez, potentially $2.6-2.8MM with the Cubs as the "heavy favorite."  The Cubs are also the frontrunners to sign one of the top Venezuelan players, shortstop Gleyber Torres.
  • Dominican third baseman Rafael Devers "might be the best hitter on the international market," writes Badler.  He's the primary target of the Red Sox.  Another contender for the best bat is third baseman Luis Encarnacion, who is most likely to sign with the Phillies.
  • The Yankees are the most likely suitor for Leonardo Molina, perhaps the best athlete in the class.  He can sign when he turns 16 on August 1st.  The Yankees' preliminary bonus pool is reportedly $1,877,900.
  • The biggest raw power belongs to Dominican outfielder Micker Zapata, who has been connected to the White Sox and Padres.
  • Badler's article has much more information, so be sure to give it a click and a read.