Cubs Reportedly Still Following Top Cuban Prospect Eddy Julio Martinez

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Cubs Reportedly Still Following Top Cuban Prospect Eddy Julio Martinez

Chicago Cubs

It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything on top Cuban prospect Eddy Julio Martinez, but recently, the silence has been broken…

In case you have forgotten who Eddy Julio Martinez is, he is one of the last remaining, currently-available international free agents from Cuba. He has as much upside as any international prospect in recent memory, plays center field, draws drool-worthy reviews and has been connected to the Cubs – among other teams – several times over the past few months. You can read more about the player and the rumors surrounding his ultimate decision here and here. And in case you aren’t excited enough, this is what Luke had to say about him in the past…

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.

(Kiley McDaniel is lower on Martinez, but he seems to be more conservative on international prospects across the board. Martinez is still McDaniel’s top positional prospect in this class, though.)

To say the least, the Cubs’ pursuit of the big, fast Cuban outfielder is more than justified. But on Luke’s last point, let me remind you Martinez will cost his future team more than just the contract he receives. If you recall, teams have a mandatory IFA budget that they must draw from in order to sign eligible international players. If a team exceeds their IFA budget by a large amount – which the Cubs already have – they are taxed 100% on the overage (and accrue future penalties/signing limitations). While it makes sense to really blow your budget, if you’re going to blow it at all – the penalties are already activated, so you might as well stack up as much talent as possible – there does come a point where a contract for a prospect, taxed at 100%, becomes a misuse of limited funds. Every dollar the Cubs add to a contract for Martinez is two dollars they cannot spend elsewhere – like the upcoming free agent market. Add in the presence of the pocket-burning Dodgers – who have also blown their IFA budget this period – and you have the recipe for a huge, perhaps overvalued, contract.

As for when Eddy Julio Martinez is expected to sign, it’s suddenly difficult to say. The free agent was actually eligible to sign during the previous international signing period (which closed back in June), where plenty of big budget teams blew their budgets, but opted to wait for this period instead. Perhaps he and his agent believed the eligible teams in this period were better fits/willing to part with more, or perhaps they know how much he is worth and are willing to wait teams out as long as possible (he is only 20 years old, after all). It’s important to remember, too, that teams’ budgets are often very tight around this time of year. Some teams have their budgets set for the season, and don’t recalibrate until the offseason, while others have tighter purses due to midseason acquisitions. Given how much he is expected to get, and the patience he has displayed to this point, I could see Martinez waiting until the eligible teams have all the means necessary to bid on him.

The bottom line is that Martinez is an extremely interesting target who will cost a lot of money; the Cubs are among just a handful of realistically eligible destinations, but the Dodgers (and Giants, who may want to take on their division rival here) are also within that that small group of teams. The Cubs have definitely shown interest in the Cuban outfielder and they are presumably still in the conversation. You should be very excited by the possibility of signing such an elite talent, but understand that every contract has its values and limits.

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Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami