The White Sox are the favorites to sign outfield prospect Oscar Colás, hears Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. The deal is expected to be worth $2.7MM, Sanchez adds. Cuban reporter Francys Romero first reported Colás’ connection to the White Sox and the anticipated $2.7MM signing bonus in March. As a 22-year-old with less than six years of experience in a foreign professional league, Colás is subject to international amateur signing bonus rules under the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement. His deal won’t become official until January 15, 2022, when the 2021-22 international signing period opens, per Romero and Sanchez.
The current CBA allots teams a hard-capped bonus pool, the precise amount of which varies based on clubs’ market size and whether they signed MLB free agents who had been tagged with a qualifying offer. During a typical signing period, teams are permitted to trade for additional bonus pool space. However, that’s not the case during the current period (which runs through December 15, 2021), as MLB barred the inclusion of 2020-21 bonus allotments in trades last June as part of their pandemic-driven rules changes.
Teams often come to verbal agreements with international amateur prospects a year or more in advance of the signing period in which they’re eligible to sign. Colás, though, was a surprising late entry to the market. After defecting from Cuba, he signed with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. A contractual dispute between Colás and the Hawks led him to seek his release, which he wasn’t formally granted until last December. By the time he was officially declared a free agent by MLB, most clubs had already verbally committed the bulk of their bonus pool allotment for the current signing period to other players.
That unconventional sequence will keep Colás from officially joining the White Sox until next winter, at which point he’ll have turned 23 years old. Despite the delay, the Chicago organization will no doubt be happy to add a decently regarded, if a bit divisive, prospect to the system. MLB Pipeline slotted Colás as the #2 talent in the 2020-21 signing period, lauding his power potential and throwing arm. Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs, however, pegs Colás as a 40 Future Value prospect (more akin to a mid-level player in a farm system). FanGraphs also credits Colás with plus raw power but is more bearish on his hit tool and defensive projection than is MLB Pipeline.
Those reports (particularly FanGraphs’) may seem surprisingly pessimistic to fans familiar with Colás as the “Cuban (Shohei) Ohtani,” a nickname he’s gotten in the past for occasional work as a two-way player. Despite his arm strength, Colás wasn’t often deployed as a pitcher in recent seasons, and it seems his days of playing both ways in any capacity are over. Colás “no longer wants to pitch,” Sanchez writes, and the White Sox are not expected to use him on the mound moving forward.
Of course, the Ohtani comparison was never fair to Colás to begin with. The Angels star is squarely in the AL MVP conversation this season thanks to a two-way performance the sport hasn’t seen the likes of for decades. If Colás “only” becomes a solid power-hitting corner outfielder, which seems within the range of possibilities based on public evaluations, his signing would more than make for a worthwhile investment for the South Siders.