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taiwan flagLast week, in between stops at the Fourth of July parade with the kiddos and the place where the fireworks were going to be (but which we couldn’t actually stay for because, like, kiddos – they had corn dogs and a dog frisbee catching contest, so it was fine), I wrote a long piece about the Chicago Cubs’ international spending proclivities.

The piece – which was kindly shared by Grantland’s Jonah Keri this morning – detailed an approach that the Cubs could be taking, in which they wantonly blow past any and all spending restrictions with an eye toward accumulating a massive infusion of young talent this year, before trading away pool space next year for further assets. It’s broken down a good bit from there, but, given a report today from Jesse Sanchez, it could be even more timely today than it was last week.

Today, Sanchez reports that Taiwanese pitcher Jen-Ho Tseng, a top 30 prospect in this year’s class to both Baseball America and MLB.com, is garnering a lot of attention and could sign for at least $1.5 million. He’s a big 18-year-old kid who is already mature as a pitcher, and is a well-known commodity in the scouting community. The Cubs, Sanchez says, are the favorite.

Yes, you’re instinct is correct: adding Tseng to the guys the Cubs have already reportedly agreed to sign would put the Cubs right up against the largest penalties the CBA levies for overspending in the international market. In other words, you could certainly see the Cubs’ aggressive pursuit of Tseng as a sign that, yes, they’re planning on throwing the spending restrictions out the window this year, and making the best of what that means for their 2014-15 class.

That all said, Sanchez isn’t so sure that the Cubs are going to blow so far past their spending pool as to incur the stiffest of penalties. He points to the fact that the Cubs haven’t yet officially inked Jimenez as evidence that the Cubs are going to try and stay within some limitation, which is a very fair point (if the Cubs were just going to blow it all out, they’d sign Jimenez now, and deal with the consequences later). Although I can see an angle where blowing past the budget is a laudable strategy, Sanchez could see the Cubs getting almost everyone they want and still avoiding the worst of the penalties, as he hints in a recent article at MLB.com. Then again, depending on how the final signing bonuses add up, Sanchez also notes today on Twitter that the Cubs could slip into the max penalty range (at which point, they might as well just go nuts). The story is a fluid one, and is among the more fascinating things to follow in the Cubs’ world right now – and that’s in a month with trades, Draft signings, and more.

Circling back …

So long as the Cubs do not exceed their spending pool by more than 15%, they will not face the most serious penalty: a 100% tax on the overage plus the inability to sign anyone next year for more than $250,000. Instead, the penalty – if you fall within the 10% to 15% overage range – is a 100% tax on the overage plus the inability to sign anyone next year for more than $500,000. With the Cubs expected to have a large pool again next year, that is a much more manageable penalty (but would still leave the Cubs with the intriguing optional approach of trading away pool space for players/prospects).

Where, then, do things stand assuming the Cubs ink all of the deals that have been reported?

Eloy Jimenez – $2.8 million

Gleyber Torres – $1.7 million

Jen-Ho Tseng – $1.5 million

Jefferson Mejia – $850,000

Erling Moreno – $800,000

Yohan Matos – $270,000

That’s a total of $7,920,000. The Cubs’ pool currently stands at $5,520,200 after considering the trades they’ve already made to add pool space. Per the CBA, the Cubs can add up to 50% to their original bonus pool ($4,557,200), which means they can increase their pool to a maximum of $6,835,800. A 14.999% overage yields a total of just $7,861,100.

In other words, if all of the reported signings go down as they have, and if the Cubs give Tseng $1.5 million, they’ll fall into the most severe penalty range even if they add the full 50% increase.

What does this mean? Well, as long as the Cubs are OK with paying the overage tax – it’s just money – then, if they want Tseng or any other headliners left in the class, the Cubs are going to have to blow their cap completely. And if they’re going to blow their cap by a tiny bit to get Tseng, they might as well go nuts on anyone else who’s willing to sign.

That all said, the numbers are so, so close here that a small discrepancy in the reported signing amount and actual signing amount could make the difference between a 14% overage and a 15% overage. For example, this morning, Sanchez tweets that Erling Moreno is actually getting just $650,000 from the Cubs, contrary to the original reports of $800,000. That $150,000 difference would actually take the Cubs back into the under 15% penalty range. Then again, Sanchez said that Tseng was getting “at least” $1.5 million. If he goes well over that, then the calculation goes back out the window. (I’d guess that, on many Asian prospects like Tseng, there aren’t the same kind of semi-pre-arranged deals as there are in Latin countries. That is to say: his price could vary in ways we don’t see with Latin prospects by the time they sign.)

If I were you, I wouldn’t get too hung up on the math just yet. The point of this exercise is only to say that the Cubs are heavy on Tseng, and, if all the other signings go as reported, being heavy on Tseng could be further evidence that the Cubs plan to blow the budget this year. Whether it plays out that way, we’ll have to see.

  • Kyle

    I’m really not sure that kid is a $3m prospect when you include the overage. We’re really making it rain here.

    • JB88

      Maybe it is just me, but this comes across as a rather curious post from a guy who has really railed against the lack of funds being applied at the ML level.

      • Kyle

        I’d rather the money be spent than not, but for $3m you can sign a useful MLB player and flip him in six months for a much better prospect.

        • cms0101

          Do you think this spending is preventing them from spending on a $3mil free agent? They’ve signed plenty of those types the last 2 years. You only have so much room on the ML roster for those guys, even if you’re flipping them in 6 months or less.

          • Kyle

            There’s always an opportunity cost.

        • JB88

          I might agree with that comment if you changed “much better prospect” into “much more developed prospect.” Because I’d agree that your “floor” probably gets better but I’m not sure that I can agree that the “ceiling” automatically improves under those circumstances.

          • Kyle

            No, I mean much better.

            These high-priced IFAs are generally really bad prospects.

            • JB88

              I know what you mean. I can read and you do a halfway decent job of writing.

              I don’t agree with your belief, however, that what can be acquired by trading a $3M per year player to another team gets you a “much better” prospect.

              • Eternal pessemist

                If you are paying 3 million dollars for a 1.5 million dollar prospect i would rather spend the money on a free agent. I would expect the cubs will be trading for more cap space to make this work.

        • http://vdcinc.biz 70’scub

          These international signings may be more risky and may take longer to develop compared to the low end winter free agent. Scott Baker is still left, the other two Scott’s got traded for young talent (two out of three), that is why management is spreading the risk out over several proven tactics. This Cub FO is working every angle possible to acquire impact young talent and at the same time is increasing quality young organizational depth.

  • brunsmk

    Aren’t there a couple other top players that don’t turn 16 until August that the Cubs are linked to as well?

    • cms0101

      There are 2 kids that are only 15 right now, but I wouldn’t say the Cubs are tied to them. Phil Rogers speculated the Cubs could go after those guys, but I’ve seen teams associated with the two 15 year olds. Tseng was always on the Cubs radar. He just took a step back in recent months, rankings wise, so Baseball America focused on the Cubs being interested in Jimenez and Torres. I agree though, if there are other unsigned players out there, and they’re already over budget, they really should go after as much talent as they can get. It will be interesting to see how they allocate next year’s pool if they are limited to $250k per player. They haven’t spent below $270k on any of these players so far. I predict the turn around and trade pool space next season.

    • cms0101

      I stand corrected. I did a little further digging. There 3-4 15 year olds that come of age at different points this signing period. Most are already tied to other teams, but there are a couple that don’t really have teams mentioned in anything I’ve seen. The best part about this strategy is if somebody becomes available unexpectedly later in the signing period, the Cubs won’t be limited to go after them, other than what Ricketts allows Jed to spend.

    • conysdad

      Phil Rogers article…

      “Dominican third baseman Luis Encarnacion and Dominican center fielder Leonardo Molina. Encarnacion and Molina aren’t eligible to sign until next month, when they turn 16.”

      http://sulia.com/chitribrogers/f/c2553f34-bc09-4cb7-a652-7798b645b0a9/

      • Serious Cubs Fan

        If we could land Luis Encarnacion, that would be huge. He’s widely thought to be the best right handed bat in this years IFA class

  • cerambam

    This is such a good idea. I really think that the cubs will go over their allotment – and go over big – then trade a ton of their international money next year for established prospects.

    I can see this being both a brand new market inefficiency, and something that gets addressed in the next CBA (or sooner if its possible). This is potentially a (evil) genius strategy that evades the purpose of the penalties and slots. As long as it helps the cubs, I’m on board.

    • King Jeff

      If it’s a new inefficiency, then this is the only year to capitalize on it. The rules and penalties change after this year, I believe the penalties will be more harsh.

      • cerambam

        I figured that the penalties would change, especially in the case of someone taking advantage like this, but are they actually set to change after this year? I thought they recently added these penalties?

  • http://paleblueblog.org shawndgoldman

    One other (less exciting) possibility is the Cubs are strongly pursuing Tsing as a “backup” in case they can’t acquire the pool space to get Jiminez without incurring penalties. If they signed Tsing at $1,500,000 instead of Jiminez at $2,800,000 they’d come in at $5,120,000… comfortably under the cap of $5,520,200.

    I think the “blow past the cap” strategy is more likely… but the math also works for the one above.

    FWIW, I love the “blow past the cap” strategy. It’s effectively like trading your top 10 picks in next year’s draft for unlimited picks in this year’s draft, but in a draft where you can outbid all the other teams. At that point it’s just about how much $ you can afford to spend to sign all the prospects.

    • Corey

      Exactly. The only risk really is, besides prospects in general, is the talent gap between this year and next year. IE, if Top 10 this year, isn’t even top 20 next year, but I doubt that kind of thing would actually happen.

  • Required

    I remember over the offseason Brett did a Sign them all Dodgers post for their FA signings. Why not do a Cub one for the amateur signings! My dad always said if you are going to be a bear be a grizzly!

    • DarthHater

      I posted this one a few days ago:

      [img]http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5517/9205094758_930a0e18cb_o.jpg[/img]

      • Required

        Thanks Darth the picture does it!

  • Cheryl

    Can the cubs ink the prospects they want to money under penalty phase and give the prospects added money after the first of the year so it doesn’t count against this year’s
    allotment?

    • cms0101

      No. MLB is watching all of this very closely. They fear teams trying to circumvent the rules, so I don’t think the Cubs will be able to get away with anything shady, nor should they try.

      • Cheryl

        So, it’s all due at one time. Is there any chance that the monies reported are off by as little as 2% on the top two signings and if Moreno’s amount is actually $650,000 they’d be out of the extreme penalty phase wouldn’t they?

  • ssckelley

    I still find it hard to believe the Cubs are blowing this money and end up getting penalties for next season. The Cubs stand to have another big pool as well and this would keep them from going after the top talent.

    • On The Farm

      But they were the first team to ever trade for the “wedges” so they have semi-set the market value of them. The wedges they cant use next season can turn into valuable trade inclusions/kickers in deals. I would like to say you are right, no way the Cubs are blowing the budget by that much, but what other logical conclusion can you reach outside of trying to find a market inefficency?

      • Kyle

        Teams will have their own internal evaluations for what those slots are worth. They did not increase the value of next year’s slots by trading for this year’s.

        • On The Farm

          I did say they “semi-set” the market value of them. Mainly because had no one traded any of the wedges this season, what would you look to as a reference if you have no historical data. I am not saying every club is going to value the wedge the same, or that even the Cubs and the said team value that wedge the same (the oversigning this season would cause the Cubs to lose their leverage in being able to use all of their money.) I am saying that there is some reference out there to say how much a certain wedge could be “worth”.

          • Kyle

            MLB teams don’t need a reference to evaluate. MLB teams have inside information because they are the ones making the decision.

            References are for fans like us.

            • On The Farm

              So the looking at Sanchez and EJax contract is going to have no bearing on what Garza gets this summer? If he gets a deal that is worse off than either of those two deals I will eat my crow like a man.

              They are going to use those contracts a reference to detirmine the worth of Garza.

    • cms0101

      I have a feeling that their intention was not to go over this much, which is why they attempted to acquire pool money from other teams. I have a feeling something they didn’t predict going into the signing period has happened, either a player picked them over other teams or a player asked for more money when all was said and done. Either way, they are faced with the choice of overspending and suffering the penalties or letting some of these guys go. Ben Badler from BA has been on multiple talk shows ripping the strategy of blowing up the budget when you’re assured of having a big pool to spend next season. I just have to wonder, how much data could they possibly have on 14 and 15 year olds now that will be eligible for next year’s signing period? I don’t recall hearing about Jimenez or Torres last season during that signing period. Cudos to their scouts if they’re able to predict a week class next season like that.

      • ssckelley

        I could see blowing past the budget if the team was somewhat competitive this year and knew their pool money was not going to be that big next year. But the Cubs are looking at a top 5 pool budget and they will tie their hands in going after these players if they don’t find a way to get under their spending limit.

    • King Jeff

      I find it hard to believe because they’ve traded for slot money. I think the more likely scenario is that they are going to go over by enough to incur the tax on the overage, but not enough that it costs them in signing players next year.

      • ssckelley

        Are there teams not using their pool money for the Cubs to acquire? I hope this is not the beginning of some serious bonehead moves the FO is making to go from not signing Bryant and end up facing penalties in both the draft and international player spending.

        • cms0101

          They are limited to what Brett stated above, in terms of acquiring more money. They only thing acquiring more money does is lowers the dollar cost of the tax they’ll pay. That’s not a bad thing, but it doesn’t appear that they’ll avoid being penalized.

          • ssckelley

            Not if Moreno signed for 650k instead of 800k.

  • Whiteflag

    LOVE SIGNING ALL PLAYERS. I SHOULD BE A DODGER FAN :)

  • Michael

    Ok so what does this mean for Shohie Otani and the cubs?

    • cms0101

      Otani signed with a Japanese team.

    • King Jeff

      That the Cubs have to wait for 5 or 6 years before he will be posted to be able to sign him. Same as it was in December.

      • Michael

        Ok thanks I didn’t know how long they would have to wait before he was posted… I knew he signed just wasn’t quite sure of all that other stuff!!

  • Dustin S

    Dumb question, but if they do go the all-in “blow by the cap” strategy…why not also trade all/most of this year’s slots? They just saved quite a bit of 2013/2014 money (~$8M doing some quick math) between the Feldman/Marmol/Hairston trades already and more deals are incoming, so they should have the cash.

    • cms0101

      I really don’t think that was their initial intention, so that’s why they didn’t bother to trade all the slots. Now that they’ve signed a few of these guys, they can’t trade what’s already spent.

    • Scotti

      Losing teams trade at the deadline, in LARGE part, because they lose money hand over fist when they are, well, losing. The fact is that the team hasn’t “saved” 8M simply because they are losing ten times that (per season) by losing.

  • Rebuilding

    I said it in Brett’s original thread, but *if* this does come to pass I would find it a very strange strategy for 2 reasons:

    1) Flexibility – It is likely that we will have one of the largest pools next year and the teams likely to have a larger one (Marlins, Astros, White Sox, Twins) are all notoriously cheap so we will likely to have the most that might actually be spent. What if between the ages of 15-16 one of these kids explodes and your scouts think he is the next Miguel Cabrera? Or even the next Jimenez? You’ve now limited yourself artificially to $250k or $500k max and lose out on what you think is the best prospect.

    2) Thinking we are trading cap space for anything useful next year seems like a big gamble. That money really hasn’t been traded around this year except by us. And given that the market right now is Ronald Torreyes = $800k, Matt Guerrier = $210k or so, I’m not really seeing the value to having all of this cap space to trade unless something radically changes next year. Not to mention that if there is someone worth trading cap space for next year I would rather we just sign him ourselves.

    I know people are going to say well maybe next year’s class is really weak. But honestly when talking about 15 year olds how would you know that a year out? Look at how much the top of the draft changes in a year

    • cms0101

      Great points. If they’re able to rank next year’s class, I’m very impressed. Who knows what they’ll be able to do with the money next year. Still, even if they sign 10 kids at $250k, I’d be accepting of that. Maybe a little depth versus the top of the market. That’s just assuming that they love this class that much.

      • cerambam

        Its not a terrible strategy to go all out on fewer, but higher ranked international prospects this year and then go for more, lesser ranked prospects next year.

        As you said, Rebuilding, these 15-16 year olds are hard to project. Some strategies include higher quality while others say impact talent. The cubs can, ideally, do both back to back.

        • cerambam

          higher quantity*

        • Rebuilding

          I’m definitely not saying it’s a terrible strategy by any means. They have scouts on the ground and far more information than I do. I would just find it strange because our FO seem to be chess players – and the #1 rule is to never limit your flexibility, especially by your own doing

    • Rich H

      But if they can get this done this year and they rush in an international draft next year then they win. Because you can not loose draft picks that do not exist yet. This is same gamble that Tampa took last year and lost because the draft did not get implemented. Now if they pushed it years down the line I am not sure. I just know it was suppose to be this year and they could not get the details worked out.

      • Scotti

        There is no International draft next year. Already announced.

  • http://paleblueblog.org shawndgoldman

    [img]http://cdn.meme.li/instances/300×300/39523656.jpg[/img]

  • EricR

    I’m just as big on signing prospects as the next guy, but none of these guys are ML ready. Is our farm system in that bad of shape?

    • King Jeff

      It’s probable that none of these guys play in the states for a couple more years, if they make it at all. This signing period is the precursor to the international draft, if Selig get’s his way, or one of his ilk takes the reigns when he is done.

    • Corey

      All these players, if they stay with the cubs, wouldn’t see wrigley, hell, Single A ball, for atleast 5 years.

      Unless they are Bryce harper/trout/machado.

      • DarthHater

        Long after Theo has donned his gorilla suit and slipped out of Chicago, fans of other Central Division teams will be cursing the seemingly endless supply of young talent coming up through the Cubs’ farm system… :-P

    • Hansman1982

      Teams are on a limited timeframe to be able to sign these guys nearly willy-billy. Next year cap violations will probably impact the future draft so it may be in high demand as we trade it away.

      This is basically Theo doing what Hendry did in the 2011 draft.

    • Jay

      Jed and Theo are looking way out there—they want “waves” of talent coming in. Their prime concern is not getting them to the bigs ASAP. And, next year, as Brett pointed out, they can trade a bunch of pool money they’re not going to get to use for other teams prospects that are further along. As far as our farm system—or the holdovers from the last regime–two words……Vitters and Jackson.

  • Required

    Sign every last prospect!

  • Frank

    Brett,
    I just got a shock and a kick in the ass. I walk into the living room and I tell my wife that the Cubs might sign a 18 year old Taiwanese pitcher and before I get the name out, she says.. Who? Jen-Ho Tseng? I’m standing there like a moron (no different from any other time) and I’m like, how did you know?
    My wife, who’s from Taiwan, says we all know about him. I guess everyone in Taiwan.

    • Rich H

      That is AWESOME. My wife would look at me and ask if that was against child labor laws.

      • TWC

        Your wife is Die hard?

        • DarthHater

          Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

          • Hansman1982

            No, if you’re wife is diehard there is something severely wrong with that and you should check into the nearest looney bin.

            Friends don’t let friends marry diehards.

            • DarthHater

              Tsk. I never would have taken you, of all people, for a hardophobe.

              • Rich H

                Are you guys having fun with this? Because I seriously cant stop laughing.

        • Rich H

          No my wife is not Die hard she is just very concerned about international sweat shops and such. So that was the first thought in her head.

  • cms0101

    Anybody just see Juan Carlos Paniagua got his visa, according to Baseball America.

    https://www.baseballamerica.com/minors/cubs-juan-carlos-paniagua-gets-his-visa/

    • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

      Great news!

    • cubchymyst

      Hooray

    • ssckelley

      If he is really 23 years old then hopefully he can move up the system rapidly.

    • TWC

      From the article: “Since Paniagua had to wait until after July 2 to sign, his bonus will count against the Cubs’ bonus pool for the 2012-13 international signing period if his contract is approved.”

      Well, that pretty much seals the “are we gonna go over our allotment or not” question, eh?

      • ssckelley

        The contract had to of already been approved, he played for the Cubs last year in Arizona and was playing for the Dominican team this year.

        • ssckelley

          From article: “Paniagua signed with the Cubs for $1.5 million last year in July, received his visa, had his contract approved and pitched briefly in the United States at the end of the 2012 season. “

          • TWC

            I suppose I interpreted the dates incorrectly.

            So it’s being retroactively applied to last year’s IFA period? Well who cares then? There wasn’t even a “bonus pool” setup last year, right?

            • TWC

              Man, I should really take the time to get all my thoughts together before I type.

              I meant that there wasn’t a slotting system setup like there is this year, and overages weren’t met with as severe penalties, but since I’ve thoroughly made a mess of this thread, I’ll just go back to work, thanks.

              • DarthHater

                It was a long weekend. ;-)

            • cms0101

              No. He signed, and pitched, for the Cubs last season. He went home in the offseason and could not get a new visa. The passage you quoted was not from today’s article, but from an article that was linked in today’s article, only the date of that passage was 7/19/2012.

            • Hansman1982

              It’s not being retroactively applied, he signed during last year’s period which ended this July 1. Last year is when everyone was initially set at a $3M-ish cap.

              • TWC

                Man, you guys really pile on dissenting voices around here, don’cha?

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  Go read another site if you don’t like it, you hippy.

                  • DarthHater

                    Hey, you really shouldn’t get personal here, pal.

                  • hansman1982

                    What, you think this is Stalinist Russia? You BLOGGER!!!!

                    (ha, that’s right, I went there)

                • Hansman1982

                  Well, if you weren’t such a dumbass and a member of the old boys club we have here we’d be more welcoming. However, since I’m besties with Bert, i can do what I want to you.

                  • Internet Random

                    I think we should start calling Bert “Bartolo”.

      • caryatid62

        We’re in the 2013-2014 international signing period.

    • Tobias

      Great news.

  • mak

    How could they know how good/bad the international market is next year? Just curious, as I figured any “scoutable” players would basically be eligible (assuming that you can’t really scout 14-15 year olds with any degree of accuracy). I have concerns about this strategy, just in the sense that “diversification” of assets is a pretty tried and true method of investing.

    • Rebuilding

      I’m sure they’ve seen most of the kids that will be eligible next year at some sort of camp or have even brought them to their facility (I’m not sure if there are any rules around that). But yes, as tough as it is projecting 18-21 year olds, I would think projecting 15-16 year olds is nearly impossible

      • DarthHater

        We’ve bought them ice cream and everything!

    • cubchymyst

      It is a concern of mine as well. The only way I see it being beneficial is if they go crazy and sign more than double what they could any 1 year.

  • Mr. Gonzo

    I wouldn’t be surprised to find out the Cubs’ FO lead the league in “evil chuckling” for the month of July when this is all said and done.

  • Pingback: Fiiiiiinally: Pitching Prospect Juan Carlos Paniagua Has Arrived in the States | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary()

  • Die hard

    I guess if there are no grizzled FA worth gambling on then might as well gamble on acned kids… Risk-reward better I guess… Hope FO isn’t guessing, I guess?

    • TWC

      I guess if there are no comments worth making then might as well ramble on incoherently… No risk I guess… Hope no one isn’t paying attention, I guess?

  • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

    I am just glad I looked at the top 30 and thought the Taiwanese pitcher held the most immediate promise. 18, live arm, and well, he might not stay long in the DR IA complex. Given his international experience, he’s a guy we could see in 4 years in AA-AAA, at least I hope so.

    Kudos to the FO. They shifted the conversation from complaining about OBP, FIP, xFIP, RISP, and OPP, to something we all know: Dough Re ME!

  • http://sportsdanny.blogspot.com Danny

    Hoyer was on WGN a few nights ago and he basically said that you can trade for the space as long as you are not over your cap but they really like the class. It really only effects them next year when they would not be able to overspend anyway as they would lose international draft picks which they won’t do – as a result, it is genius to do it now…Spend away – it’s only money!

  • Pingback: Chicago Cubs Reportedly on the Verge of Signing Taiwanese Prospect Jen-Ho Tseng for more than $1.5 Million | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary()

  • Pingback: Cubs Reportedly Sign Taiwanese Pitching Prospect Jen-Ho Tseng for $1.625 Million | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary()

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