International deals: Sox Eye #3 ranked RHP Mujica, Dodgers Splurge $42M on OF Puig, Cubs go Soler Power


 

The “Top 20 International Prospects List” by Baseball America’s Ben Badler is out and the Red Sox are hot on the trail of #3, RHP, Jose Mujica, of Venezuela. [MOO-hee-ka]

1. Franklin Barreto, ss/cf, Venezuela
2. Luis Torrens, c, Venezuela
3. Jose Mujica, rhp, Venezuela
[Top 20 list here: http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/international-affairs/2012/2613623.html]

The Blue Jays were originally reported to be in pursuit of the Venezuelan right-hander, considered by many scouts to be the top pitching prospect available in Latin America, but Toronto shifted its attention to #1 rated position player, Franklin Barreto and signed him [July 2, 2012].

The Red Sox may have another competitor; the Diamondbacks have also show interest in the 15-year-old Mujica, whose ETA for MLB would be 2016, at the earliest, and 2018, more likely.

Bader notes:” In the world of scouting 15- and 16-year-old international free agents, that lack of consensus is more routine. One team might view a player as a $1 million prospect, while another sees the same kid as a $100,000 guy.

The players at the top of the list have separated themselves, but after you get past the top 15 or 20 you’ll find a large pool of players who generate a wider variance of opinion and are fairly close together in terms of value.”

According the Baseball America, Jose Mujica has a heater with movement that sits at 90-93, an advanced change that sinks, but needs to tighten up his breaking ball, which “gets slurvy.”

He would likely be signed for about $1.3 million. A new set of rules and restrictions for International prospect will take effect on July 2. Each team will be working with an annual budget of $2.9MM for international players starting next month.

Until July 2, when the new CBA begins, there is no limit on the amount a team can spend on an International player. This allowed 21 year-old Cuban defector Yasel Puig [Phonetic Pronunciation: PWEEG] to make it to the casino cash-out window just in time to collect $42 million with a 7-year contract with the Dodgers.

Yes, you read it right: all teams in MLB will be limited to a total of $2.9 million and the Dodgers, racing to ink Puig, before the new Player contract goes into effect on July 2, 2012, gave this one player $42 million; that’s equal to the Dodgers’ total allowed budget for all International signings for, 42 divided by 2.9 = 14.5, fourteen and a half YEARS!

Besides the extraordinary amount of money paid, there are two curious facts regarding the signing of Puig:

1. Reports say that no one in the Dodger organization has seen him play, live or on video.
2. Opinions of scouts vary wildly on his skills and chances for success in MLB.

You can decide for yourself: VIDEO HERE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpT5672AOa8

Some scouts said that Puig was barely worth a $500,000 bonus, while, at the extreme opposite of the scale, some said he would be worth spending a team’s entire $2.9 million yearly budget for all International signings, but no scout, in their wildest fantasies imagined Puig would be worth $6 million annually for seven years.

In Serie Nacional, he hit .330 with 18 HR in 327 AB’s.

“[On June 30th,] the Cubs finalized their deal with Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler, who agreed to a nine-year, $30 million contract with the team.

VIDEO [http://sanfrancisco.giants.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120630&content_id=34211980&vkey=news_mlb&c_id=mlb]

Soler, 20, will report to the Cubs’ facility in Mesa, Ariz., to begin his Spring Training, general manager Jed Hoyer said Saturday in announcing the deal, which was finalized late Friday.

“He has a ton of power potential for us,” Hoyer said. “We scouted him heavily. Obviously, it’s a significant commitment for us, but we feel he fits very well into what we want to do — he’s the right age, right talent. We’re excited to finally get him started.”

A right-handed hitter with power, Soler is considered the next big Cuban prospect on the scene after outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, [CESS-ped-iss] who signed with the Athletics for $36 million over four years.

Soler had to sign with a Major League club before Tuesday’s deadline or be subjected to new Basic Agreement guidelines, which will limit spending on international prospects to $2.9 million per team without penalty.

The holdup was related more to Soler needing to establish residency. He defected from Cuba last year.”

[http://sanfrancisco.giants.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120630&content_id=34211980&vkey=news_mlb&c_id=mlb]

By comparison, the A’s also beat the new $2.9 million limit by signing another Cuban defector, Yoenis Cespedes to a $36 million, four-year contract, which came as a shock, since Oakland is a low-budget franchise in a rebuilding process.

Although Cespedes will get more annually, $9 million, than Puig $6 million, the Dodger signee will collect a higher total.

In contrast to Puig, Oakland and several other teams got a good look at Cespedes and scouts were homogenized in their opinion that he was a near lock to be a successful MLB player.

Cespedes will earn $6.5 million this year, $8.5 million in 2013 and $10.5 million in each of the final two seasons of the deal. He can become a free agent at the end of the contract, which is the highest for a Cuban defector.
Cespedes’ deal surpasses pitcher Jose Contreras‘ $32 million, four-year contract with the New York Yankees before the 2003 season.

Why would Billy Beane, who is said to be building a young team that would blossom in 4-5 years [in time for opening in their proposed San Jose ballpark], sign a 26 year-old Cespedes to a four-year deal? Notice that the yearly salary escalates: $6.5 million in 2012 to $8.5 million in 2013 to $10.5 million in 2014 and 2015.

Based on the assessment of scouts, Beane might be anticipating that Cespedes will put up great numbers for, say the first two years, and that will allow him to trade a valuable property, who is under control for two more years, to a team with 3-4 quality prospects. What would the Miami Marlins be willing to pay for an All-Star Cuban defector, who would appeal to a large portion their fan base?

While Beane has his plan for Cespedes and the Dodgers will either have a boom or bust with Puig, the Red Sox are likely to sign highly rated 15 year-old Jose Mujica, RHP, Venezuela; he is rated #3 by Baseball America’s Ben Badler.

You can see him pitching at the Carlos Guillen Baseball Academy in Venezuela, here:

If he signs with the Red Sox, he will likely start his first game at Fenway in 2018.
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Tags: #3 Arizona Diamondbacks Ben Badler Billy Beane C Carlos Guillen Baseball Academy CBA Chicago Cubs International Jorge Soler Jose Contreras Jose Mujica Luis Torrens New York Yankees Oakland A's Oakland Athletics Prospects RHP Serie Nacional Ss/cf Toronto Blue Jays Venezuela Yasel Puig \Franklin Barreto “Top 20 International Prospects List”