Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

latin americaThe Chicago Cubs are just about to get out of the penalty box.

Nearly two years after the Cubs binged on international free agents – the young, prospect-y kind, including Gleyber Torres, Eloy Jimenez, and Jen-Ho Tseng – in the Summer of 2013, the Cubs will once again be able to spend freely on international amateur talent starting on July 2 when the next IFA period opens up. According to rumors, the Cubs will once again spend heavily in that market, subjecting themselves to future spending restrictions (last time, it was one year of a hard $250,000 limit on signing bonuses; now the penalty is two years at $300,000), but bringing in a ton of talent in the process.

Indeed, Jesse Sanchez and have a list of the top 30 IFA prospects for July 2, and the Chicago Cubs are connected to six of them, including numbers 9, 13, 16, 17, 23, and 26. As discussed before, FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel performed a similar exercise, and listed seven players to which the Cubs have been connected – five of which overlap with the Cubs connections. You can check out those links for the particulars on the rumored players.

As you may know, while the market does not officially open up for deals on these players until July 2, handshake agreements tend to be in place long before that date. In other words, with these players, it’s highly likely the Cubs will land them.

Where’s the mystery?, you say. Well, not every top IFA prospect is connected (publicly) to a team just yet, so there will still be some excitement after July 2. Further, with new Cuban talent coming onto the market seemingly every week, there are still going to be plenty of turns – indeed, if the Cubs are going to blow out their budget and suffer the penalties anyway, here’s hoping they are in on some of the top Cuban names, many of whom figure to be among the most expensive players in the class.

We’ve discussed a couple of the top pitchers already, as well as an interesting infielder, Andy Ibanez, who didn’t get a lot of attention because he was coming onto the market at the same time as Yoan Moncada.

There’s a new Cuban IFA on the market who may wait until July 2 to sign, and the Cubs are among the interested teams, according to Jeff Passan:

There’s not a ton out there just yet on Martinez, but if that bonus level is any indication, he’s a big-timer. The Cubs being connected is significant, because Martinez could sign at any time. If he chooses to wait, that could suggest the Cubs – who cannot sign him at that level until July 2 – have a real shot. (As was the case with Moncada, it is my understanding that the Cubs could talk to Martinez now about how much they’d pay him when July 2 rolls around, even if they cannot actually sign him right now. That’s why watching the timing of this thing could be so telling – come July 2, the Yankees and D-Backs, for example, would no longer be eligible to sign him.)

More on Martinez:

If the Cubs did sign a guy like Martinez for $10 million, keep in mind that they’d pay a dollar-for-dollar overage tax (assuming they blow out their budget on the other players to whom they’re already connected). That means Martinez would be a $20 million talent – even in the current environment, that’s a serious prospect.

Here’s hoping he sticks on the market a little while.

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