The new international signing period began Thursday, and to absolutely no one's surprise, the Dodgers are going big and going about it quickly.
The Dodgers have already reached agreements with two significant players and there are reports of others, though the club has yet to officially announce any signings.
But they have reached terms to sign right-hander Yadiel Alvarez, ranked No.2 in Major League Baseball’s Top 30 international prospects list, for $16 million and outfielder Starling Heredia, ranked No. 5, for $2.6 million.
Alvarez, 19, is another highly regarded – get ready now – Cuban prospect. He can reportedly hit 99 mph, though is considered raw. He is something of a gamble, having no professional experience in Cuba’s top league but scouts apparently think he has the potential to be a front-of-the-rotation starter.
Heredia, 16, is from the Dominican Republic, though his favorite player is reportedly Yasiel Puig. He’s 6 feet and 225 pounds and nicknamed “Pit Bull,” which I’m pretty sure isn’t a reference to the rapper. He has raw power, all the tools and is projected as a corner outfielder.
MLB.com is reporting the Dodgers have also signed its No. 21 prospect, infielder Ronny Brito, for $2 million and shortstop Oneal Cruz for $950,000. They are also believed to be one of the finalists on No. 1 prospect Cuban outfielder Eddy Julio Martinez. He is not expected to sign Thursday.
All this activity will again shore up their farm system, and come at a serious cost. The Dodgers’ overall international bonus pool this year is $2 million, and anything after that comes with a 100% penalty. And for exceeding their limit, they will not be able to sign any international player the next two years for more than $300,000.
That was the same scenario they faced this season when earlier this year they elected to pass on Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada, who ultimately signed with the Red Sox for $31.5 million.
Instead the Dodgers decided to focus on this year’s class. And once you’ve blown past your bonus and know you will be limited the next two years, you have all the incentive needed to go all in.
Plus, there remains talk of a coming international draft, which would change the entire existing format.
The Dodgers have been big players on the international scene in recent years, having signed Cubans Puig ($42 million), Hector Olivera ($62.5 million), Alex Guerrero ($28 million) and Erisbel Arruebarrena ($25 million).