Kiley initially rolled this feature out a few weeks ago, but with signing day’s arrival, we wanted to make this more prominent on the site today, so we’re re-running the initial post. The board has since been updated many times and is current with the latest information.
Today we’re unveiling the sortable board for the July 2nd international signing period. This works mostly like the sortable draft board (which is also still accessible by means of a tab at the top of the page) with some different columns, for obvious reasons. The top-41 players are ranked based on my preference from seeing these players and talking to scouts about them, not in order of industry consensus or projected bonus, though you can sort by bonus if that’s what you’re looking for. The other players listed are not ranked, just sorted based on expected bonus, so long as I think they’ll get $300,000 (the most that the teams in the penalty can offer) or more. You can also check the international article archives for more info on many of the players listed here.
The projected bonus represents what I think the player will get, not what I think they’re worth, and the projected team is listed if I’m over 50% sure that will be where the player lands (with many of the projected teams having been certain for months or even a year). Many of the higher-profile players without a team listed are still working out for teams in the last month and are far from signing. I’ll add tool grades and reports for more players next week, but these 69 players should quench your thirst for July 2 knowledge, though I’m sure a couple guys omitted from the board will get bigger bonuses than expected.
These are the top players that are currently subject to the international bonus pools, which reset next Thursday on July 2, so older Cuban free agents (there aren’t any notable ones eligible to sign at this time) won’t appear here. Five other notable Cuban players absent here are one status email from MLB away from being added to the list. RHP Vladimir Gutierrez, CF Yusnier Diaz and RHP Norge Ruiz are the best of that group and all project to get multiple millions in a signing bonus, but are all expected to fall under $10 million, at least right now. CF Randy Arozarena and SS Alfredo Rodriguez are also in this group and are more six figure to low seven figure type prospects.
It now looks like the Cubs, Dodgers and Royals are the three teams going over their pools and entering into the penalty of two years with no signings over $300,000. The Dodgers are so recklessly signing whichever player they want for whatever number it takes that teams are openly wondering what top Cuban player they won’t sign during this period and agents are frothing at the mouth at the chance to put a top Cuban on the market in the next 12 months. I didn’t project Cuban CF Eddy Martinez to a team in the sortable board since his market isn’t clear, but every Cuban for the next year is most likely to sign with the Dodgers. A couple other teams, specifically the Cubs, could sign one of the higher-profile players this year since they’re going over their pool, but the Dodgers could still outbid Chicago if they want to.
The Rays, Angels, Diamondbacks, Red Sox and Yankees went over their pool last year and will be serving year one under the penalty in this period. At least a half-dozen teams are a threat to go over, but either just barely stay under budget or trade for the full 50% maximum of additional pool space, likely from one of the aforementioned teams or a traditionally lower-spending team like the Marlins or Orioles. The teams that will spend about as much as they’re allowed without going into the penalty includes the Blue Jays, Phillies, Braves, Mets, Twins, Rangers and Mariners. Here’s what the bonus pools are for each team.
As I mentioned in December and again in March, having at least eight teams in the penalty for the 2016 period, including most of the historically heavy spenders, could make for an interesting dynamic. There are already rumors of a few teams getting agreements in place for top 2016 players in an effort to blow past their pool in the last year before the CBA expires (and an international draft of some kind is likely instituted), but that second tier of teams that spends their full slots and signs one or two seven-figure players could dry up, further killing the middle-tier signing that already has started disappearing this year.
2015 Funny Name Update
Two late cuts from the 69-player July 2nd board are Dominicans SS Fidel Castro and RHP Henry Henry. Both have a chance to get a six figure bonus and have some real skills aside from their names.
The 2016 July 2nd Market
I’ve previously sung the praises of 2016 Venezuelan SS Kevin Maitan, as scouts told me he was the best prospect in some time, obvious even when he 14 years old or even younger. He’s a Miguel Cabrera-type talent with size, power and speed that likely moves down the defensive spectrum in the coming years, but one scout said the offensive impact could be like Juan Gonzalez. I’ve also previously mentioned Venezuelan C Abraham Gutierrez as another elite prospect in line for a multi-million dollar bonus due to his advanced glove and big arm strength and raw power.
Three more names to keep an eye on at the top of next year’s class are Dominican SS Yerdel Vargas, Venezuelan SS Cesar Izturis (son of the big leaguer by the same name) and Dominican SS Yasel Antoona. It sounds like Antoona is next to Gutierrez as the best non-Maitan propect in the class and Izturis likely moves off of shorstop soon, possibly to the outfield. All five of these players should be paid in the $2.5 million to $5.0 million range and I’m told at least three of the five already have deals in place, though I won’t name the teams yet.
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.