The Braves announced that they have traded minor league right-hander Garrett Fulenchek to the Rays in exchange for a pair of international bonus slots. The value of those slots comes out to roughly $494K.
This marks the third separate trade that the Braves have made today in order to acquire international bonus money. The moves were made necessary by a pair of agreements to sign promising young international prospects Derian Cruz and Christian Pache for a combined total of $3.4MM. The Braves began this year’s international signing period with a bonus pool of $2,458,400, meaning they needed to acquire nearly $900K to accommodate the agreements free of penalty. Thus far, Atlanta has traded right-hander Cody Martin to the A’s and, in a second trade, sent minor leaguers Jordan Paroubeck and Caleb Dirks to the Dodgers. The combined total of those three moves has added $1,131,600 to its bonus pool, which will allow the Cruz and Pache signings to be finalized under the team’s cap, which has swelled to an even $3.59MM.
In parting with Fulenchek, however, the Braves have surrendered perhaps the most promising piece yet in any of these three deals. The 19-year-old was Atlanta’s second-round pick (66th overall) just one year ago. A high school righty out of Texas, Fulenchek debuted with the Braves’ Gulf Coast League affiliate in 2014 and pitched to a 4.78 ERA with 29 strikeouts against 22 walks in 37 2/3 innings. While those numbers aren’t exactly impressive, he still ranked firmly within the team’s Top 20 or so prospects. Baseball America rated him ninth among Atlanta farmhands this offseason, while Fangraphs placed him 17th. (Those rankings occurred prior to some of the team’s trades, however.) MLB.com presently ranks Fulenchek as the Braves’ No. 13 prospect.
Fulenchek received a $1MM signing bonus last year and is described by most as a projectable right-hander. BA praised Fulenchek’s ability to generate ground-balls with his fastball. Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel noted that he sits 91-95 mph with his fastball and touches 96 at times, also flashing an above-average slider. MLB.com notes that he’ll have to work on repeating his delivery point, but could develop into a big league starter over time.
Fulenchek is a far more notable acquisition than most players that are swapped for international pool money, though it should be noted that he was selected by the Braves’ previous front office, which has since undergone some changes. He’s not as highly touted a prospect as Touki Toussaint, whom Atlanta effectively purchased from the D-Backs last month, but it’s nonetheless a bit surprising to see such a high profile draft pick moved just over a year after he was selected.
The Rays, for comparison, acquired a similar pair of slots from the Marlins earlier today in exchange for minor league right-hander Enderson Franco despite being limited to a maximum of $300K per signing this period.
The Braves are doing this to make sure we don’t incur any penalties for NEXT year. Three sources have told Keith Law that we’ve already locked up SS Kevin Maitan (LOADS of Miggy comps) for $4.25 million for 2016. That kid is a BEAST and, if true, the Braves will need as much money as possible.
No Big League Choo For Yu
The point isn’t what they are going to do with the money, it’s the fact that they gave up way more than teams typically do for that extra money.
I don’t know why the Phillies aren’t making trades like these for international slots. They’re spending over their cap pool, but not going all in and blowing past it like the Dodgers. But they’re spending enough to have to sit out the next 2 signing periods. Either act like the Dodgers or acquire a few slots so that you’re able to participate in next year’s signings when the majority of the big spenders have to sit out.
But like most things nowadays, the Phillies do it half-blank’ed.
The Braves bonus pool was 2,458.400 and 50% of that would be 1,229,200 bringing their bonus pool to 3,687,600. If it’s 3.9m what am I missing here?
I’m not sure if they have updated the story, but they show Braves adding $1,131,600 which brings their total to $3,590,000, which is just under their pool max of $3,687,600.
It’s interesting that the Braves were routinely lauded for ripping off the Diamondbacks last week. This week they do basically the same thing but in reverse and nobody says a peep about how the Rays took them to the cleaners.
Of course, Fulenchek isn’t as good as Toussaint. Goes without saying. On the flip side, what the Braves received in return is far, far, far less valuable than the $10M+ in salary relief that the D-Backs got.
What you are failing to account for is the fact that money from international bonus slots is not at all the same as straight cash. The entire reason for doing these trades to get international bonus money is because the braves had deals in place for a couple top-10 international guys that they really liked, but they also DESPERATELY want to stay under the bonus pool cap so that they can go completely wild in signing as many people as they want from the more talented 2016 pool (like the yankees did in 2014 and the dodgers are doing this year).
Compare that to the Touissant trade, which was literally just so the dbacks could acquire straight cash. The motivations behind that trade and the ones yesterday are completely different.