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.