Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

cuba featureAccording to multiple reports, the Chicago Cubs have swooped in and agreed on a $3 million deal with Cuban outfielder Eddy Julio Martinez, one of the top international prospects this year. After the 100% overage tax penalty is factored in, Martinez will effectively cost the Cubs $6 million.

Opinions on Martinez already varied, and the dollar figure attached to his signing is only going to further the questions about just how impressive he is as a prospect. The expectation on Martinez had long been that he would sign for a bonus two or three or four times that amount, making him a $20 million prospect when you factor in the overage tax penalty a signing team would have to pay.

Why didn’t it happen? What happened to Martinez’s prospect stock? Should we not be all that excited about the signing?

It sounds like some caution is advised before drawing too many conclusions. Although the signing bonus is often the best indicator of a player’s perceived talent on the market, Kiley McDaniel points out in a recent chat that this may have been a situation where the dollar amount has more to do with bad timing than talent:

It’s a complicated but a common situation in a July 2 setting: scouting momentum yields higher and higher offers, then the agent gets greedy, teams get tired of the runaround and move on, then the agent has to settle for 25-35% of what he’d already been offered.

Happens all the time in the 16-year-old July 2 setting. The true value of the player is probably between the peak hype value one team put on him and the discount version, but people tend to say the highest number was never real and the signing bonus was reflective of the talent, when neither is really true.

From what I was told, Martinez had three teams that offered at least $7 million, with a good shot of $10-11 million coming. Then, the agent got greedy (was then fired), teams moved on, the market was reset at $5 million or less by the new agent and teams came back, the new agent opted to take the now money, rather than wait and maybe get a few million more.

If you take McDaniel – who’d previously projected an $11 million bonus for Martinez, and ranked him as the second best IFA prospect – at his explanation, then you’d believe the Cubs just got themselves a huge bargain on a quality prospect.

Indeed, that’s what Keith Law believes, as well, noting that the signing was a “steal,” and Martinez would be talked about as a potential top pick in the draft were he eligible going into next season. You can read Law’s thoughts on Martinez, as well as several other international prospects, here at ESPN Insider.

Jesse Sanchez offers more on Martinez, who was ranked the 4th best prospect on the IFA market this year by

Jim Callis, on the other hand, is relatively less impressed:

In other words, for Callis, Martinez is a very good prospect, but far from a top-of-the-first-round type talent. As I’ve said before, the range of opinions on Martinez is particularly extreme, which is not entirely uncommon for Cuban prospects.

Even if Martinez is “only” the Cubs’ 12th best prospect or thereabouts, it’s still a really incredible addition for only money at this time of year. And, again, some scouts and sources believe Martinez is much better than that.

Given the timing of the deal – which has still not been confirmed/finalized by the Cubs, by the way – we may not learn too much more about Martinez until next year. Instructional ball is just about over, and it’s possible Martinez will not play in an organized offseason league (though you’d love to see it happen). If he doesn’t, the first action we’ll get to see/hear/read about will come in Spring Training.

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