JAN. 12: Lopez is already weighing multiple offers and could receive the largest bonus ever for an international amateur prospect, tweets MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. Currently, Roberto Baldoquin’s $8MM signing bonus stands as the largest ever signed by an international amateur. (Players such as Jose Abreu, Rusney Castillo, Yasiel Puig, etc. were considered professionals when they signed.)
If a record-setting bonus is to be expected, then it stands to reason that the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels and Rays all have a leg up when it comes to signing Lopez, as each team has already incurred the maximum penalties for exceeding their bonus pool this signing period. None of those four will be able to sign a player for more than $300K next two signing periods, so they may be more willing to take on the added cost right now while they’re still able to add talent. The Cubs and Rangers, on the other hand, can’t sign a player for more than $250K after exceeding their pools last signing period, and therefore can’t bid aggressively on Lopez.
JAN. 9: The United States Office of Foreign Assets Control has cleared Cuban right-hander Yoan Lopez to sign with Major League teams, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. The 21-year-old Lopez was already cleared by Major League Baseball back in November, meaning that he can now officially sign with a big league club at any time. Sanchez writes that Lopez is expected to sign with a club prior to Spring Training.
Because Lopez is just 21 years of age and has only three seasons of professional experience in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, he will still be subject to international spending limitations. To this point, the Yankees, Dodgers, Padres and D-Backs have shown the most serious interest in Lopez, according to Sanchez.
Of that group, the Yankees have already gone well over their 2014-15 spending pool. As such, it stands to reason that they could be willing to outspend other interested teams, as they’re already set to incur the maximum penalties during the next international signing period. Additionally, the Rays, Red Sox and Angels have gone over their pools, though Sanchez doesn’t specifically link any of those three clubs to Lopez.
Lopez has held multiple showcases for Major League clubs since defecting from Cuba and establishing residence in Haiti, and he’s also held private workouts for multiple yet-unreported clubs. Sanchez writes that Lopez’s fastball sits 93 to 95 mph, but he’s touched 100 mph on occasion. He also throws a cutter, curve, changeup and slider, per Sanchez, who adds that Lopez worked to a 3.12 ERA with a 28-to-11 K/BB ratio in 49 innings in his final season in Cuba.