dominican flagWhen it comes to acquiring amateur talent, the MLB Draft gets the bulk of our attention. That’s probably fair, given the volume of prospects that the Draft generates, but good organizations have long availed themselves of the other primary avenue: the international free agent market.

Unlike in the U.S.-based Draft, international players – historically, this segment of player acquisition has focused on Latin and South American countries, as well as the Pacific Rim, more recently – are eligible to sign with professional baseball organizations at age 16. Signing periods occur on an annual basis, beginning July 2 each year, and you typically see a flurry of signing activity on and around that date.

Prior to the most recent CBA, teams were free to spend as much as they’d like internationally, and the smart organizations went wild. Now, teams are limited to spending pools dictated by their record the prior year. Fortunately for the Cubs, they were terrible in 2012, and now have the second largest pool to spend internationally (about $4.66 million).

And, according to Baseball America’s Ben Badler, the Cubs will be focusing the bulk of those dollars on two of the top international prospects: big outfielder Eloy Jimenez from the Dominican Republic, and shortstop Gleyber Torres from Venezuela. Each is considered by many to be the top prospect in this class in his own country, and the Cubs are heavily in on both. Indeed, Badler calls the Cubs the “heavy favorite” to land Jimenez, and the “frontrunner” on Torres.

Badler’s piece includes scouting reports on the players, as well as eight other top prospects in this year’s class. Jimenez is projected to get the biggest bonus in this class – as much as $2.6 to $2.8 million, which is an enormous amount in the new environment – which suggests to my untrained eye that he is, commensurately, the best prospect in the class. Torres’ figure projects to be around $1.6 million, which is more than the Cubs gave their top international prospect last year (Juan Carlos Paniagua, who received $1.5 million). The Cubs can fudge their pool sufficiently to spend closer to $5 million total in signings (you can go over by 5%, and you can exclude six signees who sign for $50,000 or less), but if they land Jimenez and Torres at these figures, they may have just $500,000 or so to work with for all of their other signings.

Keeping in mind that these youngsters are just 16, and are subject to a wildly high bust rate, it would be great to see another couple top prospects injected into the farm system, even if they come at a steep price.

  • Kyle

    So what are the changes we can sign Jiminez and get him to AA by the end of the season, with an eye toward starting in 2014?

    • MikeW


    • bbmoney


      • fromthemitten


  • dash

    Gleyber Torres is a really awesome name.

  • Steve Ontiveros’ Mustache

    I think this is a very good sign. Who knows if any really young kid will pan out, but getting more potential in the system is important. It’s international signings and the draft at this point. Because the players the Cubs will be willing to trade at deadline just aren’t going to command top prospects, or even medium high prospects. Maybe not even medium prospects.

    Garza, Feldman, Camp, Gregg, Marmol, Bowden, DeJesus, Soriano, Schierholtz, Valbuena, Navarro. I just don’t see any of those possible trade candidates bringing in much other than low to medium low level prospects, even if they are phenomenal between now and the deadline.

    So I hope the Cubs will be in on all international top prospects at some level.

  • Justin

    Very random, but Peter Gammons was just on MLB Network and said 2 interesting things. #1 “Chris Archer is going to be a star.” That’s the first I have heard that..
    #2 “The Astros are leaning towards taking Kris Bryant or Colin Moran and paying them way underslot, to spend later in the draft.”

    Now Gammons is old as hell and seems borderline senile, but I find these statements interesting if your into b.s. that’s more than likely not true.

    • Stinky Pete

      I very distinctly recall Gammons issuing a similar guarantee about Andy Marte. Who? Exactly.

    • Angel

      Jason Parks from Baseball Prospectus has been very high on Chris Archer so I would take a look on him.

      • JulioZuleta

        Chris Archer is a guy the Cubs traded to the Rays for Matt Garza.

        • Justin

          Yeah I know, that’s why I brought it up. I haven’t heard that he was going to be a star by anyone, even Mr. Andrew Jackson i.e. Peter Gammons.

          • JulioZuleta

            I was talking more to Angel who said “we should take a look at him.” Archer has definitely lost some prospect muster though. This is his age 25 season and he’s still in AAA (he was in AA as a 21 year old). He’s still walking 4 per 9, which isn’t awful, but he also has a pretty high WHIP of 1.5 so far this year. He is striking out 10.3/9 though. A couple red flags in there. First, this is his third season in Durham (although he was there only briefly in 2011). Also, with that many K’s, BB’s and hits, he is never going to last very long into games. I still wish we had him, especially since the choice was either him or McNutt, but I don’t see him becoming even a #2 at this point.

            • JulioZuleta

              This is Archer’s 8th season in the minor leagues. That seems crazy, but I guess it’s kind of normal for high school draftees. Vitters is on year 7, for reference.

              • Seamhead

                I wonder how many miles of bus rides that calculates to….

            • Justin

              Yeah Archer’s numbers/age don’t look great at all. Not exactly sure what Gammons is talking about.

    • Luke

      I’m not so sure that Bryant would sign way under slot. Moran might.

      Most sources still seem to link Appel with Houston, but I’m not sure how much of that is speculation. Houston’s front office is far from water-tight, though.

      • JulioZuleta

        I think at #1 Bryant would go under slot, otherwise they wouldn’t take him there. I saw that on another board too, from a guy who clearly has some kind of inside info on the draft. He says that Houston will take either Bryant or Frazier (which would be a mistake of epic proportions). I’d love it, that gives the Cubs a little more leverage at #2 to say, “you take slightly under slot here at #2, or right around a slot at #3,” and see which guy bites. Of course they might not know who Hou is taking until it happens, which would leave them about 4 minutes to do those negotiations.

        • Justin

          Yeah Bryant could go for close to $2 million under slot at #1 and still be overslot for what he would get at #3.

    • Brett

      Having both Appel and Gray on the board for the Cubs at 2 is a dream scenario.

      • ssckelley

        I agree, I would love for the Cubs to have to choose between Appel and Gray.

      • When the Music’s Over

        Would also give so much ammunition for I told you so’s on the Appel vs. Grey argument should one of them succeed and the other does not.

    • ssckelley

      Archer has been rated in the top 100 for the past 3 years (#36 this year) and he has pitched fairly well at the MLB level. Since the Cubs got Garza in return for him I think that deal paid off well for both teams. The Cubs also got Zach Rosscup who is pitching well out of the bullpen for AA Tennessee.

      If I remember correctly the Cubs got Archer as a throw in from the Indians for DeRosa.

    • When the Music’s Over

      Very good chance Gammons would think far less of that player if he wasn’t in the AL East. Literally, if that guy was still in the NL Central, wouldn’t surprise me if Gammons had never heard of him.

    • Carew

      Its random, but I just wanna say Chris Archer is REALLY skinny and tall. I was at a Bulls game and he walked by and towered over me, and I’m 6’2-6’3. I was amazed

  • Stevie B

    Dont do it Jed/Theo….
    Stay away from Boras..

  • JulioZuleta

    Badler was incredibly accurate on his predictions last year. Something crazy like 19-20 I think.

    • Brett

      That doesn’t surprise me given (1) his connections and knowledge in that arena, and (2) the fact that these high-end signings tend to be kind of “known” before the July 2 date arrives.

  • Saving Grace

    This is why one more bad year is important to the Cubs in regards to the rebuild.

    Another year of a protected draft pick and large international money will give them that last chance to really score in the drafts before they start to become good.

    I actually would stay away from the bigger free agents like Elsbury and wait till the following year.
    Boras will not let Elsbury sign cheaply
    He always comes up with phantom teams to up the bidding.
    And Elsbury was adamant about playing out his time to get to free agency.
    He won’t be a Bourne,he wants his big payday

    • Steve Ontiveros’ Mustache

      I don’t see this FO falling for Boras’ tricks. I think they will walk away from a player if the deal isn’t right.

  • When the Music’s Over

    “Keeping in mind that these youngsters are just 16, and are subject to a wildly high bust rate….”

    I would take it a step further and say that they are subject to a near absolute bust rate, but do agree still cool to get excited over.

  • TJ

    Are there any updates (positive or negative) about the international prospects signed by the Cubs last year? Along these lines, what happened with the Cuban pitcher who had mono- Concepcion I believe???

    • cjdubbya

      Concepcion is on a “limited activity rehab” in extended ST, apparently.

  • David

    I would prefer to spend for an aroldis chapman type arm, rather then another big outfielder. If Soler ends up busting, why would getting another guy that is the same type player help us?

    • Kyle

      Chapman wasn’t signed as a 16-year-old, and I don’t think there are any Chapman-like older pitchers available this time around.

      Projecting 16-year-old pitchers is incredibly hard to do, which is why most of the big-money prospects will be hitters.

      • JulioZuleta

        Danny Almonte looked great as a 13 year old. He looked only slightly better the next year as a 17 year old.

      • Dynastyin2017

        Yeah, Sickels has a blurb on all top 50 internationals, and I believe he only had 5 or 6 pitchers listed.
        As far as Jimenez goes, 6-4 200 lb 16 year old? Yowsers….

        • JulioZuleta

          I hate that I always question the ages. I don’t want to, and I feel like it’s not fair because I’m sure most tell the truth, but I can’t help it. 6’4″ 200 lb 16 year old that is athletic/coordinated enough to be considered that much of a prospect just raises my eyebrow. It’s unfortunate. Even Soler has always had me a little uneasy, even though it’s less prevalent in Cuba. And Puig? He looks like his AARP card will be arriving any day.

          • Timothy Scarbrough

            I trust the Cubans, a communist government keeps pretty good track of its people. Places like the Dominican Republic, I don’t really trust at all.

  • Joshua Shapiro

    Gleyber?! Sounds like he should be hunting down Spartacus…

  • ssckelley

    I like the Cubs doing an all or nothing approach with these international players. Go after and get 2 of the top prospects instead of spreading the money out taking chances on players that end up as minor league fillers.

  • Kev

    Just out of curiosity, what is the bust rate for young international prospects anyway?

    • Brett

      I haven’t seen data, but I’d love to know. For ALL 16-year-old international prospects, probably something on the order of 5% make the big leagues – probably less. For the big bonus babies, I’d really love to know. If the success rate of > $500k signees (and I’m defining “success” very low, as just making the bigs) is higher than 15%, I’d be shocked.

    • DarthHater


  • Steve

    The Badler article states that you can trade for more pool money? How does that work? Is it as simple as it sounds, like a player for cash deal?

    • Kyle

      Every team’s pool is divided into four equal chunks, and you can only trade for an entire chunk. They aren’t able to be traded until after the signing period begins.

      • cubchymyst

        You think the Cubs might target some of that international pool as the Cash return for the minor league players they traded recently? Probably not the Rockies but maybe they Yankees since they have a small pool to begin with.

        • Chris

          I’m not sure this would be allowed as part of a PTBNL deal like they’ve done with the Yankees and Rockies. As Kyle stated, they aren’t allowed to acquire the pool money until after July 2nd. That rule is in place, in part, to attempt to limit the number of trades that happen involving pool money. Since both of the recent deals happened now, I would guess they will get actual cash back rather than be able to acquire pool money. Personally, I hope they acquire the maximum amount of money they can and spend it all. I’d love for them to acquire some of the tradeable draft picks too. I hope Jed is up to the task of maximizing those types of opportunities.

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