6:43pm: Cincinnati president of baseball operations Walt Jocketty said that team and player “do not have a deal,” as C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets. As Rosecrans adds, though, that doesn’t necessarily mean an agreement isn’t in place, as most executives would decline to confirm such an agreement before it’s final. And Jocketty did admit that Rodriguez “is a player of interest.”
6:11pm: The Reds have struck a deal with Cuban shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez that will pay him $6MM, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. Rodriguez, 21, left Cuba back in May in hopes of pursuing a career in the major leagues.
Importantly, as Sanchez, explains, the signing will put Cincinnati into the max penalty for international bonus spending. The club had been just within its allotment after its prior signings, but is now set not only to pay a 100% tax on its overages but also to lose its ability to sign an international player for over $300K for the next two signing periods. With that bullet bitten, it’s fair to wonder whether the Reds will pursue additional players before this July 2 period closes.
Ben Badler of Baseball America provided an explanation of the youngster’s abilities when he left Cuba. The key takeaway is that Rodriguez is a polished defender who has a long way to go with the bat.
Rodriguez won the Rookie of the Year award in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, based largely on his impeccable glovework (and the defection of leading candidate Yusnier Diaz). Indeed, he hit just .265/.301/.284 over 304 plate appearances on the way to earning the award. Rodriguez also has good wheels, according to Badler, which certainly could boost his odds of eventually cracking the majors.