The Padres have agreed to sign 20-year-old Cuban right-hander Michel Baez and will pay him a $3MM signing bonus, reports Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com (via Twitter). Because the Padres are already over their allotted international bonus pool, Baez will come with a 100 percent luxury tax and cost the team a total of $6MM.
Sanchez lists Baez as 6’8″ and 230 pounds, noting that he has a fastball which sits in the 93-97 mph range. Baez comes without much in the way of publicly available information, as he didn’t rate in MLB.com’s list of top 30 international prospects, nor did he appear among the 47 international prospects that were listed on Fangraphs’ sortable scouting board. Baseball America’s Ben Badler ranked 50 players when listing his top international prospects this year — though he didn’t list Cuban players that had not yet been declared for free agency — and didn’t mention Baez’s name, either. Per Baseball-Reference, Baez pitched in part of just one pro season in Cuba — the 2014-15 season — and posted a 5.22 ERA with 17 strikeouts against 17 walks as an 18-year-old. Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets that he could start next season in A-ball and is a former teammate of fellow Padres signee Ronald Bolanos.
The lack of information on Baez is not to suggest that he’s lacking in any sort of appreciable talent. Players often fly under the radar and come with unexpectedly large signing bonuses when they do. A player of Baez’s age with that sort of frame and velocity certainly sounds appealing on the surface, though a great deal of additional context would be required before fairly assessing him. Regardless, Padres scouts are clearly enticed by Baez’s abilities, and the sum of the bonus itself seemingly indicates that San Diego faced some degree of competition for his services.