International Free Agency is Here: Cubs Starting With Five Prospect Signings (UPDATE: Four More)

Happy January 15! Formerly happy July 2! Until there’s an international draft – and it is almost certainly coming over the next few yers – it seems like January 15 is here to stay as the new opening of the International Free Agent signing period. That means the Cubs are getting some new prospects today!

As Bryan explored yesterday, we already knew the top trio the Cubs would be signing, and Jesse Sanchez has confirmed that group, together with their signing bonuses:

The Cubs have a $5,179,700 bonus pool allotment, so $3.8 million of that will go to Adan Sanchez, Alexis Hernandez, and Jefferson Rojas. You can read more about these three prospects here and here, but the headline is that each is considered a top 20 to top 50 prospect in this year’s class (the variance is super high outside of the top five or so). Sanchez, the top prospect out of Panama, is a catcher for now, but his bat might be what carries him at another position. Hernandez is the younger brother of Cristian Hernandez, and is also a shortstop prospect like his brother. Rojas is also a Dominican shortstop, and a seven-figure bonus, alone, puts a guy like that on your radar.

With nearly another $1.4 million available to spend, we figured the Cubs would have more signings today. Indeed, Baseball America reports two more names: Josefrailyn Alcantata, OF, Dominican Republic, and Carlos Altuve, C, Venezuela. No word on the bonuses yet, and neither shows up on the BA or MLB Pipeline top 50 for this class. That, of course, doesn’t mean they won’t wind up notable prospects, it’s just that they aren’t going to be as immediately on the radar as the bonus babies. More on them and any other signings when we have it.

In the meantime, it’s worth thinking about the implications of whatever remaining funds the Cubs have. It’s possible it is already dedicated to Alcantata, Altuve, and others we haven’t heard about yet. It’s also possible that the Cubs are holding back $500,000 just in case they sign a qualified free agent. Recall, that costs them their second round pick in 2022 *AND* $500,000 in IFA bonus pool space. Best not to commit to spend those funds just yet if you don’t know if you’re going to have them, especially if the guys to whom you’d already made wink-wink-nod-nod commitments years ago did not fully eat up your pool.

UPDATE: Baseball America adds four more names for the Cubs:

No word yet on bonuses, and the scouting reports on non-top 50 guys are pretty much non-existent at the moment. It *tends* to be the case that the guys who show up on day one as uniformed signings for these events are all at least six-figure bonus guys, though that isn’t always the case. Also, remember that signings with bonuses $10,000 or less do not count against the pool.

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Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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