With the draft on our doorstep and with draft talk appearing almost daily, this seems like a good time to look past the draft a little to the beginning of the International Free Agent signing season in early July. We already knew the Cubs were set to spend a small fortune this summer, but it now looks very likely that the Cubs could be willing to invest a second fortune in an effort to land the best player in the class. And they might make a play for two of the top three.
Indeed, the Cubs are reportedly serious about MLB Pipeline’s top IFA prospect, Cuban Eddy Julio Martinez:
Not sure if there is a leader but sources tell me the Cubs have shown serious interest. https://t.co/CovVzX1uop
— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) June 4, 2015
That doesn’t mean the Cubs will sign him, but if they do, in addition to the rest of their 2015 class, they may well wind up with the best group of prospects to be signed this summer.
The scouting grades MLB Pipeline place on Martinez, an outfielder, are verging on the territory of video game ridiculous. They grant him 60s across the board, with the exception of Run. That’s a 70. The comparison they make is to Andruw Jones, but if those grades are legitimate you could be forgiven for dreaming on a future as an almost-but-not-quite Mike Trout. What those scouting grades do ensure, however, is that Martinez is going to be handsomely paid very soon.
Martinez, 20, is eligible to sign right now, but the fact that he hasn’t with the 2014-2015 signing period closing in mid-June is significant. That implies, strongly, that he is at least seriously considering (or has quietly agreed to) an offer from a team that is locked out now but won’t be in July. The top candidates to be that team? Cubs and Dodgers. And while the Dodgers have been winning the Battles of the Moneybags lately, I suspect the Cubs have the reserves to put up a fiscal fight for a player they really want.
And they might have another fight, too, on the number three prospect, Lucius Fox.
If the Cubs land Fox, this class becomes incredibly good. Like Martinez, there are a lot of team involved on Fox, but unlike Martinez, Fox cannot sign until July 2. Given that he arrived on the scene a little late, any team that does not want to blow the spending limits may already be promised to enough other players that they won’t have the room for Fox. That puts the deep pocketed teams who are committed to blowing past the limits in the drivers’ seat, and that means it may well be the Cubs and Dodgers fighting for the wheel.
In short, the Cubs are in a position to add two of the top three prospects to a group that already contains seven highly ranked players, including, by some rankings, four of the top twenty. That would be a huge influx of talent to a farm system that is already full to bursting with prospects at the low levels, and it would come on top of the June draft in which we can reasonably expect the Cubs to do fairly well.
Things are likely to stay dynamic for both Martinez and Fox over the next few weeks, so stay tuned.