Well how about that.
Not 20 minutes after writing up the Chicago Cubs’ latest international signing, they’ve gone and topped them all by agreeing to terms with 16-year-old Dominican outfielder Eloy Jimenez, the top prospect on the international market, according to Baseball America and MLB.com. The signing was reported by Jesse Sanchez, who late last night reported that Jimenez had decided to sign with the Cubs.
Jimenez is receiving a $2.8 million signing bonus plus $250,000 in college tuition, according to Sanchez. I don’t believe the latter portion is subject to the international spending pool, but, even if it isn’t, the Cubs appear to now be in the red, even if you consider the pool money they added yesterday, as well as the 5% overage they’re permitted before being exposed to serious penalties. As I explained earlier:
After signing Torres, Moreno, and Mejia for $3.35 million, and after netting $963,000 extra to their $4,557,200 bonus pool yesterday via trades, the Cubs had about $2,446,210 left to spend, after considering the 5% they can go over without incurring dramatic penalties. With Matos getting $270,000, the Cubs are down to approximately $2,176,210, give or take a few bucks.
Thus, ostensibly, the Jimenez signing would put the Cubs way over their limit. In fact, they’d be so over the limit (more than 15%, by my quick calculation) that they’d be exposed to the most severe penalty: a 100% tax on the overage and (worse) the inability to sign any prospects for more than $250,000 for the next signing period.
I’m not sure that is what’s going to happen when this all shakes out, though. Or at least I hope.
My understanding is that a team cannot trade for bonus pool money if it is already in the red. That said, because the Cubs added pool money just yesterday, fully knowing that this Jimenez deal was going to happen, I’ve got to assume that they have their ducks in row. In other words, if the Cubs knew they were going to blow the budget by 15% anyway, and would be unable to make any more trades for pool space, why add any pool money at all yesterday?
How they work this remains to be seen. I’m assuming some of the “signings” aren’t official yet, including maybe this one. Presumably, then, the Cubs will add more pool space at some point before finalizing one or all of these contracts. I suppose that means teams know the Cubs are now very, very in the market for bonus pool money, but hopefully the Cubs have already prepared for that perceived weak negotiating position. Perhaps they already have a deal in place for a certain amount of bonus money (which was an amount that made the $210,000 they traded away with Carlos Marmol superfluous). Sure would explain a lot.
Once the dust settles, I’ll have more on the prospects, themselves – especially Jimenez.
UPDATE: Doing some quick math and speculation that could totally be wrong, if the Cubs need to add about $650,000 in pool money to sign Jimenez and everyone else without going more than 5% over their pool, they’ll need to acquire one of the top 17 slots (the White Sox are at $666,100). Lots of potential trade partners up there, but the slots also rapidly get huge. Since you can only increase your bonus pool by a maximum of 50% (so, an addition of about $2.25 million for the Cubs, who’ve added $936,000 so far), I’m a little concerned that the Cubs are going to now have to trade for a slot that is much larger than they can actually use (and the other team is going to want the Cubs to pay commensurately). If the Cubs want to increase their pool to the maximum they can, without “wasting” too much money for which they’ve traded, we’re looking at the Blue Jays ($1.222 million), the Royals ($1.381 million), the Red Sox ($1.565 million), or the Marlins ($1.763 million) in that range. Some of those teams have probably already used up their money, but you get the idea. Maybe the Cubs have already worked out a prospect for pool money swap with the Marlins?
UPDATE to the UPDATE: As Alex points out in the comments, the Cubs could also add a combination of lower slots to make up the money – le duh. Sorry for the haste. The rest of the update is still a little interesting to think about, I suppose. But, yeah, the Cubs could have deals in place to add lots of smaller slots, not just one big slot.
OBLIGATORY DRAMA UPDATE: Jimenez’s agent is apparently denying that a deal is done, but that’s actually consistent with everything we know so far. I doubt a deal is finalized, and that could be all the denial is about. I’m not concerned at this point.
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