MLB’s international free agent signing period opened today– the first of its kind, under the terms of the new CBA, which significantly, not to mention astonishingly ridiculously, curbs the amount of money clubs are allowed to spend– and the Jays went right to work looking to add the next maple-tingling firework-exploding laser-beavering Jacques-Rougeau-ing floating-poutining Justin Morneau to their organization…
Assuming, y’know, that said player is Venezuelan. And not at all in the mold of Morneau.
In that sense, or even a sense that doesn’t pointlessly shoehorn in a bunch of Canadian stereotypes as a nod to our national holiday, the Jays seem to have done well for themselves, signing the top rated international prospect according to Ben Badler of Baseball America.
Franklin Barreto, a shortstop, is the name of the player, and he comes with a $2-million price tag for his very intriguing skill set.
“There are few amateurs who have ever had Barreto’s extensive track record of dominance representing Venezuela during international competitions,” writes Badler. “A 16-year-old from Miranda, Barreto has two standout tools in his hitting and his speed. Some scouts project Barreto as a future plus hitter. He has quick hands, a short swing, recognizes pitches well and hits the ball to all fields. With his hitting acumen and plus-plus speed, he could become a potential .300 hitter.”
“High-end projections range from Rafael Furcal with less defense to a Shane Victorino type in center field,” he later says, though he adds that clubs don’t think Barreto will stick at shortstop, and will eventually have to move to centre. Of course, we’re talking a long way in the future. The kid is 16!
The Jays, once again according to Badler at Baseball America, have also signed number nine prospect, another Venezuelan shortstop, Luis Castro.
The terms are not yet known, but Zach Links of MLBTR and making delicious beef jerky notes that it can’t be for more than $900K. That’s because the new CBA has limited the “bonus pool” for international free agents this year to $2.9-million, and as with the draft, the penalties for going over the limit are rather severe.
Per the CBA, via MLB Bonus Baby…
Excess of Pool Penalty (Tax on Overage/Draft Picks)
• 0-5% 75% tax
• 5-10% 75% tax and loss of right to provide more than one player in the next signing period with a bonus in excess of $500,000.
• 10-15% 100% tax and loss of right to provide any player in the next signing period with a bonus in excess of $500,0000.
• 15%+ 100% tax and loss of right to provide any player in the next signing period with a bonus in excess of $250,000.
Given the Jays’ investments in the region since Alex Anthopoulos revamped the club’s scouting department, it’s hard to foresee them incurring such penalties, which would suggest that, as in the draft, they’ve opted to pay for the highest-ceiling talent available, taking a pass on more middling prospects.
Speaking of last month’s (Jesus, is it July already?) draft, back stateside, Jim Callis– also of Baseball America– tweeted yesterday that the club had signed their second round pick, high school right-hander Chase DeJong, for an over-slot $820K. That leaves the Jays with only 22nd overall pick Marcus Stroman still left to sign, among their high-bonus selections, and Callis tweets that they have $2,131,340 of their bonus pool left to offer him.
If they go over that amount, they’ll forfeit a draft pick next summer, but I get the sense that the two sides will reach an agreement– and not just because Stroman hardly stands to benefit financially by going back to school for a year and re-entering the draft with his college eligibility gone, his only options being either taking what the club that drafted him is offering, or waste another year either in non-affiliated ball.
I noted on Friday that Stroman had some exciting news that he really seemed eager to tell the world. His Twitter feed, @MStrooo7, provides us with even more intrigue, as we see that over the last few days he’s gone to visit family, but told followers to “ stay tuned though! When I know, I’ll let y’all know!”
He appears to have returned home, partied with a guy from Entourage– a total budding-millionaire move, I think, even though I have no idea if the dude in the picture is actually from Entourage, because… as if I’ve ever watched that show– and is now in an airport on his way somewhere. Could it be Dunedin? Sure… but it could also be literally anywhere. Fingers crossed!
Stroman also, it seems, likes to call people shitbums and “poo poo,” which I obviously find immediately endearing, and makes me hope the Jays get him signed ASAP. OK… maybe it’s not entirely that as much as it’s the fact that he could step straight out of college and help their damn shitshow of a bullpen right this minute, but still.