JUNE 15: The signing is now official. MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart tweets that Rodriguez’s exact bonus is $1.9MM, so he’ll cost the team a total of $3.8MM when accounting for the 100 percent luxury tax they’ll pay.
JUNE 6: The Astros have agreed to sign 20-year-old Cuban righty Elian Rodriguez for $2MM, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports. The move will be subject to MLB’s rules regarding international bonus spending and will be part of the pool period that ends June 15. As such, the Astros will have to pay a 100% tax on the signing, bringing the total cost to $4MM.
There isn’t much English-language information about Rodriguez that’s widely available, but Badler reports the 6’4″, 205-pound righty has added velocity since leaving Cuba and can now touch 97 mph with his fastball. Rodriguez also throws a slider and curve, along with a changeup that Badler says he doesn’t use much yet. He pitched briefly for Camaguey in Cuba’s Serie Nacional in 2014.
The Astros have been active in the international market this signing season, inking prospects like Anibal Sierra from Cuba; Freudis Nova, Nerio Rodriguez and Deury Carrasco from the Dominican Republic; and Yorbin Ceuta and Angel Macuare from Veneuzela. (They also signed Yuli Gurriel from Cuba, although his signing was not subject to international bonus pool rules.) Houston had already incurred penalties for its signing totals, meaning the Astros were already ineligible to sign any player for more than $300K in either of the next two signing periods, the first of which begins on July 2.
With a bit more than a week to go until the signing period comes to a close, it’s possible that the Astros could try to sneak in one more signing. They’ve been loosely connected to 19-year-old Cuban shortstop Jose Israel Garcia, though there’s also very little in terms of readily available info on him.