As expected, the A’s have agreed to terms with Cuban teenager Lazaro Armenteros on a $3MM deal, as MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez writes. (Baseball America’s Ben Badler wrote yesterday that the A’s were expected to sign Armenteros.) They also agreed to sign Dominican shortstops Yerdeluis Vargas and Marcos Brito for $1.5M and $1.1M, respectively, as Sanchez also notes. The A’s also added two more high-six-figure players to their signing class in outfielder Kevin Richards ($600K) and third baseman George Bell ($500K).
These moves all but assure that Oakland will take on the maximum penalties for exceeding its cap, which is just over $3.8MM. That will mean that the team won’t be able to spend over $300K for any single prospect for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 periods. Additionally, the club would pay a 100% overage tax for whatever amount goes over its limits.
Armenteros is, in many ways, in the same situation as the other young players who’ll soon sign. But he has long drawn added attention because of his immense physical tools, Cuban heritage, and perhaps also the recent case of another highly athletic young player from the island in Yoan Moncada.
As Badler explains, the bonus suggests that Lazarito rates as a top traditional July 2 prospect. But he’ll come nowhere near the $31.5MM contract given to Moncada (which cost double that with the penalty). Per the scouting report, Armenteros shows good power and speed, but has a ways to go in developing his hit tool and is likely to end up as a corner outfielder in the long run.
MLB.com ranks Vargas the No. 21 prospect available this signing period, praising his projectable frame, good contact ability and strong arm. Brito ranks No. 23, with MLB.com noting that the switch-hitting 16-year-old has solid bat speed and contact ability. Baseball America rates Richards the 39th-best international prospect available during this signing period, noting in its subscribers-only scouting report he’s very athletic and fast but currently has questionable offensive ability. Bell, who does not appear in either the MLB.com or BA lists, is the son of the former MLB star of the same name.