Monday, 2 July 2012

Dearest Coco:

You're poison and you ruined Canada Day. Get the fuck off my team.

The Jays have signed two international free agents.  Today, of course, is July 2, which means that the international free agency season has begun, and that those pesky international budgets are in play now too.  Anyway, the first signing was Franklin Barreto, a SS/CF (more on that in a second), who was the top-ranked international prospect according to Baseball America.  Terms haven't been announced, but it's probably in the $2MM range.  He apparently won't stick at SS.

The Jays also signed Luis Castro, a 16 year old Venezuelan shortstop.  Terms weren't disclosed for this one either, but the two signings can't combine for more than $2.9MM, unless the Jays are content with a penalty, as referenced by Baseball America:
International signings will have a similar pool, with similar penalties. Going over by up to 5 percent kicks in the 75 percent tax; 5-10 percent includes the same tax and a loss of the right to sign more than one player for a bonus of more than $500,000. Go over by 10-15 percent and a team incurs the 100 percent tax and can't sign any player for more than $500,000. Going over by more than 15 percent draws the 100 percent tax and prohibition to sign any player for more than $250,000.
The Jays have signed draft pick Chase DeJong for $860K (~$200K over slot), which means that they can offer Marcus Stroman up to $2.13MM without facing anything more than a tax penalty.

So yeah, about that whole SS/CF thing.  In the minor leagues (or in this case, in Venezuelan amateur leagues), you're going to put your best athletes at CF and SS since those are the hardest positions to play.  Did you notice how practically everybody that got drafted this year was either a SP, a SS or a CF?  There was obviously the odd guy out there who was a lot bigger and will be listed as a 1B/3B, or in the Jays' case, Marcus Stroman, who will probably be a reliever going forward, but for the most part, if you're getting drafted or signed as an international, you're going to be among the better athletes on the team and thus play a more premium position.

It's no surprise that guys get moved from SS once they get to the minors; remember when Miguel Cabrera made his debut with the Marlins?  He was rail-thin and 20 years old.  He was also drafted as a SS.  Mike Morse of the Nats was a SS, and he is now 6'5'', 250.  We have to remember that these kids are 16 years old, and they are going to fill out quite a bit in the 5-7 years before (if?) they even make it to the bigs at all.    Not coincidentally, those positions are the scarcest when it comes to offensive production, and teams will stick guys there to try and eke more offense out of their lineups. So yeah, that's why you get such a disproportionate amount of SS's and CF's signing or getting drafted.

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