I keep getting asked if Cuban RHP Yadier Alvarez will be eligible to sign in this international signing period or be forced to go into the 2015 July 2nd pool. The short answer is that nobody knows yet. The initial report on this topic is correct that Alvarez (and fellow Cuban defector RHP Vladimir Gutierrez) needed to already be registered with MLB (which they couldn’t do while in Cuba) to sign during this period, due to their birthdays. Since both are younger than Red Sox IF Yoan Moncada — whom I recently interviewed — and on the wrong side of MLB’s age cutoff for registration, Moncada didn’t face this same problem. We had a similar issue weeks ago when MLB teams were waiting on the MLB office to make a ruling about their OFAC clearance policy for Cubans and now teams are waiting on different sorts of rulings on multiple players.
That said, waivers have been granted to Dominican kids in the past for failing to register on time and Alvarez’s reps are working to get him the same waiver, though a Cuban player has never had to ask for one, so there’s little specific precedent. This waiver would allow him to sign during this signing period. Here’s the official language with emphasis on the important section:
That waiver would give Alvarez the flexibility to sign in this period or after July 2nd, if it turns out that’s when his best deal would come. That may end up being the case because, while it’s still very early in the process, a hot rumor is that the Dodgers are targeting Alvarez as part of an aggressive 2015 July 2nd spending push. That strategy is far from a done deal, as the Dodgers only recently passed on Moncada, so sources believe the club is still deciding what they want to do. I wrote up Alvarez in depth here and sources expect him to get over $10 million, but he’s been seen so little by scouts that it’s hard to say what his bonus ceiling may be. Here’s video from Alvarez’s second workout for scouts held earlier this month.
In addition to these two Cuban players, I referenced on twitter that MLB is also in the process of deciding what to do with the status of SS Lucius Fox. He played at American Heritage High School in the Miami-area last year but now is working out for scouts in his native Bahamas and it’s still unclear if he’ll be an international prospect (he’s high school senior age, so he’d be eligible right away) or draft eligible for this summer. He was seen as a solid top 5 round follow until recent workouts where he’s bulked up and kept his plus plus speed, making him a possible seven figure prospect in either market.
These three players, along with Cuban 2B Andy Ibanez, who is eligible to sign but still hasn’t pulled the trigger yet, could all be ruled/choose to not sign until July 2nd, giving further depth to a class already seen as one of the deepest in years. Cuban 2B Hector Olivera is 29, soon to be 30, and isn’t subject to international bonus pools like the above players, so signing him would come with no penalties and he’s expected to sign soon (full details). I’ll have more on the July 2nd class coming Monday.
Kiley McDaniel has worked as an executive and scout, most recently for the Atlanta Braves, also for the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates. He's written for ESPN, Fox Sports and Baseball Prospectus. Follow him on twitter.
Any notes or scouting on 20 year old 1b Lazaro Alonso. He defected a couple of weeks ago. How much of a prospect is he, and are teams evaluating him as a player to go into the international restrictions for?