At last check, big-time Cuban prospect Lazaro “Lazarito” Armenteros was working out for teams with an eye toward signing soon – perhaps as soon as next week.
To that end, Jesse Sanchez reports that the Braves will work out Lazarito on Saturday, and are among the teams “making a strong push” to sign him.
At first blush, it makes plenty of sense, as the Braves are currently rebuilding and are reported to be moving aggressively into the international market. On the other hand, because the Braves haven’t yet blown out their spending pool in the current IFA period, it’s fair to wonder whether they would do it at this point, having already missed out on any extra signings between July 2015 and now.
Maybe this means Lazarito isn’t going to get the huge bonus we’d been expecting?
I suppose it’s also possible that this rumor is floating out there in an effort to push the teams already in the penalty zone – the Dodgers, Giants, Royals, and Cubs are the four teams – to step up their offer?
Keep in mind: whichever team signs Lazarito is going to have to pay a 100% overage tax, which will effectively mean that signing the player for $20 million would cost nearly $40 million. I’m really not sure the Cubs are going to go to that level. If they’re not going to, I’d almost rather see the Dodgers get him, because if the Braves head into the max penalty zone, they might start spending more aggressively in this period – and the Dodgers would potentially still have even more money to spend.
So, we’ll see if it really is the Braves or if the Dodgers swoop in over the top, as they tend to do. The resolution could be coming soon.
And, then, since Lazarito is only 16, it’ll only be a short half-decade before he maybe-possibly reaches the big leagues!
EDIT: An Eric Longenhagen tweet reminds me of something else I meant to say:
If the Braves are hot for Lazarito, he'll need to wait until after J2 to sign so they can ink him, Maitan, Abe Gutierrez, other pursuits.
— Eric Longenhagen (@longenhagen) February 2, 2016
In this case, it’s possible the Braves could go after Lazarito right now, as Sanchez’s report suggests, or it’s also possible they could try and convince him to wait until the next period kicks in so that they can spend wildly in that period, rather than this one. In the span of a career, waiting five months to sign is not an especially long thing for a 16-year-old. But waiting on that cash – that guarantee of a life completely and forever changed – could be a tricky sell.