The Orioles have acquired left-hander Alex Katz from the White Sox in exchange for international signing bonus slots #45 and #75, the club announced (Twitter link). The total value of those slots adds up to $756.3K (from Baseball America, here is the full list of slot values for the 2016-17 signing period, which ends on June 15).
A 27th-rounder for the Sox in the 2015 draft, Katz has a 3.09 ERA, 10.1 K/9 and 2.65 K/BB rate over 102 innings in the minors, appearing as a reliever in all but one of his 62 career games. Katz has shown a propensity for keeping the ball in the park, as he has surrendered only two homers during his career. Katz has yet to pitch above the Class-A level, and the Orioles announced that the 22-year-old will be assigned to their Class-A affiliate.
This is the third trade in six weeks that has seen the O’s deal away international signing slots in exchange for players, after April deals that brought right-hander Damien Magnifico to the team from the Brewers and southpaw Paul Fry from the Mariners. The Orioles have rather notoriously spent little on international free agents in recent years (as Baseball America’s Ben Badler recently noted in a severe critique of the club’s practices), so it makes sense that the team would look at its int’l bonus slots as trade chips.
The deal is also notable from Chicago’s end, as the team just spent between $25MM-$30MM in an agreement with Cuban outfielder Luis Robert. Since the Sox had to far exceed their bonus pool limit to make the signing, they owe a 100 percent overage on every dollar spent above their pool threshold. Increasing the size of that pool by $756.3K, therefore, saves the White Sox some money.