dominican flagRemember Eloy Jimenez?

I’ll forgive you if the Matt Garza interlude has sapped your brain of one of the bigger stories from earlier this month. As you may recall, the Chicago Cubs decided to go nuts on the international free agent market this year. Landing big-time prospect after big-time prospect, the Cubs capped it off (well, they aren’t quite done yet) by agreeing to terms with the consensus top prospect on the market this year, 16-year-old Dominican outfielder Eloy Jimenez for a cool $2.8 million.

That happened several weeks ago, but Jimenez hasn’t actually been signed. Why? Well, as you also may recall, although the Cubs are going hog wild in the international market, there are certain spending limitations in place (about which more here), and the super-short version is that the Cubs could have put themselves in a bind if they officially signed Jimenez before they’d added certain international pool slots (except they don’t necessarily have to add any more slots, they might just decide to do so for certain strategic reasons, and they can’t add any more after they officially sign Jimenez to his monster deal … you know what? This is too much for a parenthetical. Just read here and here if you want more).

So, circling back: the Cubs haven’t officially signed Jimenez yet. But it’s coming, according to Jesse Sanchez. Jimenez’s agent tells Sanchez that his client will be officially signing with the Cubs on August 1 or 2 at a press conference in the Dominican Republic. Further, the agent says, Jimenez turned down a $5 million offer to stick to his original deal with the Cubs.

Why August 1 or 2? Well, that’s no coincidence. Since the Trade Deadline is July 31, that’s the last reasonably possible day that the Cubs will add additional international pool money. If it doesn’t happen by then, it probably isn’t happening, and the Cubs will just go ahead and blow the budget completely.

As for the $5 million offer, it sounds pretty incredible, doesn’t it? I’m a loyal guy, but if someone offered me almost twice as much money to sign with another team, I’m not so sure I’d be able to stick to a “my word is my bond” type situation. So why is Jimenez doing it?

Well, there are three possible explanations, and I like to think they all probably inform Jimenez’s decision. First, Jimenez probably really does like the Cubs organization (which has devoted a lot of time and attention to him), and the Cubs do now offer superior facilities in the Dominican Republic. Second, there’s probably a little bit of agent bluster in that $5 million figure. A higher offer than the $2.8 million Jimenez is getting from the Cubs? I totally buy that. Maybe $5 million spread out over a longer period of time or including college or other incentives that kinda-sorta make it $5 million? Yeah, that seems like a possibility. The final reason Jimenez would stick with the Cubs despite the huge offer is that, when it comes to these international prospects in Latin America, I have been led to believe that the pre-July 2 “agreements” to sign are as iron clad as a verbal understanding can possibly be. The same teams work with the same trainers/agents/representatives for years, and no one is interested in losing the trust that is necessary to generate the best deals for the players.

So, good on Jimenez and his family and his agent for sticking with the Cubs. Hopefully he has a long, productive career with the Cubs and everyone winds up thrilled with the decision.

  • Jp3

    So I know this is way hella early BUT what is the time frame for someone like him getting to the states and playing in minor league games even in Arizona? Assuming he doesn’t bomb out in the Dominacan league 2 years? Forgive me for not knowing the legalities of his situation but could there be documentation issues for him to get into the US later on?

    • Luke

      If all goes well he’ll spend next summer playing in the DSL or VSL, come to the US for Instructional League in Arizona in the fall, return to the US in the spring, remain in extended spring training until mid-June, and then start his stateside career with either Arizona (much more likely) or Boise (far less likely).

      Two years in the VSL/DSL would not surprise. Neither would two years in the Arizona Rookie League.

      • Jp3

        Me either, just curious how the prices worked. Thanks luke. He and Torres would be great blowing up in the minors when we’re turning it around in the majors in a couple years

  • ken

    What’s to stop the Cubs from agreeing 2.6M and then Aug 3rd after the first contract is signed to give the kid an additional bonus? Anyone know?

    • Brett

      Commissioner’s Office would not approve – it has the power to impose sanctions on deals that are designed to circumvent the rules.

      • Pat

        I think there are still ways around it, but they would be so risky for the player that I doubt it would make any difference. Think of it as stock options versus a contract, the options are only good if certain things happen (stock goes up, vesting period is fulfilled, etc.). The team could assure the player that if they make the majors they will be given a (non-required) raise for their second season, which would impact future years as well since there a limits as far as how much less can be offered vs. the previous year.

        But that would require at least three things happening the player cannot count on. One, they make the majors. Two, they perform well enough that a generous raise isn’t suspicious, and, three, that the same management team that made the verbal agreement is still in place. That wouldn’t be any sort of incentive for most unless everything else was equal to begin with.

  • Dan


  • Justin

    So next yr I can see half of MLB blowing out there budget and doing what the Cubs did this yr. Which will ultimately drive the pice way up on the top guys. Hell, next yr a guy like Jimenez may go for $10 Mill. I love it. Genius..

    • DarthHater

      The real genius, if I understand Brett correctly, is that next year the penalties on overspending become harsher, which means that teams will have greater incentive to trade for cap space, which the Cubs will be selling.

      • Justin

        Really? I didn’t catch that. And it sounds like 2015 may be ian nternational draft. So this may just be a one time thing maybe. Although if the penalties are just cash I can see the Dodgers not caring next yr. And I am sure most assume the $5 Mill offer was from Colleti and the Dodgers like I did…

        • DarthHater

          I might have misunderstood. But I thought that was part of it.

      • Brett


  • 5412

    Hi Brett,

    Nice write up. I find it amazing that teams put that kind of money into a 16 year old. At the same time, I saw ARod play as a 16 year old and called a friend who coached where my son played college ball. He is the guy I told you about that now has a WS ring from the Angels.

    He told me ARod would never play college baseball and when he is 18 he will be the #1 pick in the draft…….when ARod was 16. He went on to say he actually started hearing about ARod when he was in Little League.

    A high school classmate of mine coached Little Leage for a lot of years. He told me one of his kids made it to the major leagues. Kelly Gruber I think, they lived in Austin. He said that a kid was really good if he hit 6-8 home runs in a season. Gruber hit 28.

    So many fathers have dreams of their kids making it big. What they generally don’t understand is how much they have to dominate even over older competition. Last time I saw the stats 1 kid in 10,000 kids that played high school baseball is good enough to play in college. When you watch even a Div. III game you are looking at some damn good athletes.

    If this kid turns out to be really good you have to hand it to the scouting and player development organization.


    • Blublud

      I’m confused

      • 5412


        Ok try it this way. Many a superstar has been discovered at a very young age. Let’s hope our guys get it right!


  • Tommy

    So I’ve been thinking about this international spending pool, and it seems fairly rudimentary. If the rules only punish you the following year if you go over your spending cap, why not sign as many of the top prospects that you can every other year? You’d be making out hella better than trying to manage it every year.

    • Justin

      Yep. It really is a dumb rule that baseball clearly didn’t think out very well. This actually allows teams with cash to get all of the top prospects in a yr if they are smart. Although, 29 other GM’s didn’t do it, I guess the Dodgers tried too after they pulled their heads out of their asses .. But at this point if you have the cash it looks like a no brainer what the Cubs did.

    • Starlin Backer

      If it’s a really dumb, restrictive rule, I assume Reinsdorf is behind it.

  • cubsin

    First, I don’t know how many teams, if any, have significant IFA draft slots left. I haven’t seen any mention of draft slots connected to any of the rumored Garza trades.

    Second, the Cubs seem to be the favorite to sign the pitcher from Taiwan, and they’re supposedly very interested in the two top-five prospects who won’t be able to sign until they turn 16 in August.

    I expect the Cubs will pay a sizable penalty (100% tax on the overage) and be limited to $250K maximum bonuses next year. I’m not at all conviced that would lead them to trade away one or more draft slots next year. They may just elect to go for quantity over quality in the 2014 IFA draft.

  • Webb

    Has anyone considered that Leonardo Molina turns 16 on August 1st? Could the Cubs be waiting until that date to see if he will officially sign with them as well? Waiting until then gives the Cubs the opportunity to know whether or not it is worth their while to trade for cap space. If he is leaning towards the Cubs on July 31st, then why bother trading for more cap room? If not, then the Cubs will hopefully have that advanced knowledge and make a play to stay under the 15% overage penalty.

    • Brett

      It’s possible, though I expect that, like with other Latin prospects, Molina already essentially has a deal in place (I believe I’ve read that the Yankees are expected to sign him).

  • X the Cubs Fan

    Luis Encarnacion is another guy the Cubs could sign he has big time power potential but cant sign til August 9th.

  • Corey

    Lord, I can’ seem to remember all the players the cubs have signed in the international free market.

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