In a move that would be as expected as it is weighty, the Chicago Cubs may have landed 16-year-old Dominican outfield prospect Eloy Jimenez for what will probably end up being the highest bonus any prospect receives this international signing period.
According to a late night report from Jesse Sanchez, Jimenez and his family have decided to sign with the Cubs, despite the last minute appearance of a rival suitor. Indeed, Sanchez says the other team offered more money, but maybe it was too late to sway Jimenez from the Cubs, to whom he’d been strongly connected for a very long time (ground work and Dominican facilities paying off, perhaps?). Sanchez adds that Jimenez and his family are big Sammy Sosa fans, and Jimenez dreams of playing at Wrigley Field some day.*
The actual signing will come at some point this week, it looks like. That might be because the Cubs need to add a little more bonus pool money before they can sign Jimenez.
With $963,000 added to their $4,557,200 pool yesterday, the Cubs – right now – have $5,520,200 to spend, plus a 5% overage before significant penalties kick in. So, for our purposes, we’ll say the Cubs right now have an effective pool of $5,796,210. They’ve already signed Gleyber Torres for $1.7 million, Jefferson Mejia for $850,000 and Erling Moreno for $800,000. That takes the available dollars down to $2,446,210. That may be enough to land Jimenez – the rumored price tag was in the $2.5 to $2.7 million range.
If it isn’t, the Cubs will have to add a little more before they can officially sign him – and, no, you can’t go over your pool and then subsequently trade for pool space to make up the difference. You have to have the extra space first.
(Teams are permitted to sign six players to bonuses of $50,000 or less, which do not count against the pool. Also, all players signed for $10,000 or less do not count against the pool. So, even if these four players “use up” the entire Cubs pool, they can still sign many more talented youngsters.)
I would preach caution with respect to any teenage prospect, and that would go double for a 16-year-old who hasn’t yet played any real competitive baseball. But Jimenez is the number one international prospect to Baseball America and MLB.com (although BP’s Jason Parks isn’t quite as high on him), so there is reason for excitement here. Then again, I’d also preach caution with that excitement until he’s actually, officially signed.
*If you wanted a two sentence encapsulation of all that is special about the Cubs (including Wrigley Field) and why everything they’re doing at the ground level is important (including in the DR), this is it. I suppose the only missing piece – for a youngster like Jimenez, anyway – is to reconnect with Sosa.