After spending plenty on the international market earlier this period, the Chicago Cubs figured to have something like $700,000 of IFA bonus pool space remaining and no restrictions to slow them down (other than that cap space). With the way the market works, the only real way to use up that money on quality prospects is if and when additional Cuban prospects reached free agency, annnnnd, what do you know – the Cubs have signed two, reportedly for right around $700,000.
Per Francys Romero, the Cubs have cashed in that space on two Cuban prospects: 17-year-old outfielder Christian More and 19-year-old outfielder/right-handed pitcher Felix Stevens Canizares (the next Ohtani?! (No, probably not)). The former required $400K to sign and the latter took the remaining $300K, which I believe just about empties the Cubs’ bonus pool for this period … and that’s a good thing! More or less! You’d certainly hope a team with hardly any top-100 prospects would take as many swings on the international market as possible, and the Cubs now have.
Of course, the downside is that with no bonus pool space remaining, the Cubs will not have a shot at the newest top Cuban top prospect to hit the scene, shortstop Yolbert Sanchez. The 21-year-old was cleared by MLB yesterday and will be eligible to sign with a new team starting on February 5th. He’s also a more highly sought-after prospect than either of the guys the Cubs landed.
But if you’re feeling a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) already, don’t. That top prospect, Sanchez, is known more for his elite defense, which is apparently already ready for the big leagues, than anything he can do at the plate. He’s expected to be a good runner and fielder, too, but it’s not like those are the types of player the Cubs are having trouble identifying right now. Don’t get me wrong, maybe, with the right coach and a splash of the launch angle revolution, he can unlock another offensive level to his game, but that’s not what caught the league’s attention. He’s a glove guy, first and foremost, and while that has value, it certainly limits the impact of missing out.
In any case, FanGraphs reports that Sanchez will hold private workouts in the Dominican Republic later this week. And as for potential suitors, the Rangers and Red Sox both figure to have about as much remaining as the Cubs did before signing these latest two free agents ($700K-$800K), while the Phillies (~$1M), Dodgers (~$1.4M), and Orioles ($6M) lead the pack with plenty of room for additions. Good luck to them.
Now what’s the deal with the Cubs’ guys? Unfortunately … I don’t know much. Information on really young international prospects – ESPECIALLY from Cuba – can be really limited, but I’ve found even less than usual on Christian More (including whether he’ll be a pitcher or a position player) and just a handful of scouting videos from 2017 on Felix Stevens Canizares (who is now two years older than he was in this video):
And off that, I’m not going to even try to evaluate him. That video is two years old and potato-quality. But you can generally assume, based on their age and relatively healthy bonus, the Cubs are rolling the dice on some upside and making full use of their bonus pool to do so. I’m sure, once these guys are in the organization, we’ll get more detailed scouting reports on both.
Again, given the state of the Cubs organization, you’re happy to see the team use up every ounce of their pool. You can question whether it was better served on a more sought-after player like Yolbert Sanchez, but the Cubs weren’t guaranteed to land him even anyway. An upside bird in the hand, and whatnot.
The current IFA period ends in mid-June, then there’s a quiet period before the next class opens up for signing on July 2.