Dodgers sign Cuban 1B/OF Yordan Alvarez, plus 2015-16 int’l recap

There is no doubt the Dodgers got the most out of the 2015-16 international signing period, and on Wednesday they inked one more prospect in the form of Cuban first baseman/outfielder Yordan Alvarez.

The 19-year-old signed a $2 million bonus. There really isn’t a lot of information available on the 6’5, 220-pound left-handed hitter. He did play a couple of seasons in Cuba’s top professional league, Serie Nacional. He hasn’t played since 2014 when he was 17, but he hit .351/.402/.387 with just two extra base hits (a double and home run) in 125 plate appearances. Defensively, he played 71 games at first base and just two in the outfield. He’s strictly a corner outfielder, as he isn’t quick enough to play center field.

This is the little bit I was able to find:

Ben Badler at Baseball America had this to say about the newest Dodger:

“Since Alvarez didn’t play much in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, my looks at him while he was in Cuba were limited to just a handful of at-bats. Alvarez had a long, lean build in Cuba, but those who have seen him more recently said he has gotten stronger and filled out to 6-foot-5, 220 pounds.

He has a simple lefthanded swing, drawing praise from scouts highest on him for his bat control and ability to manage the strike zone well for his age. While Alvarez never showed much power in Cuba, he has since earned average to above-average raw power grades from scouts who have followed him at workouts. Some evaluators said he sometimes struggles to tap into that power in games in part because he doesn’t always generate enough lift in his stroke (58 percent of his batted balls were groundballs during his final season in Cuba).

An offensive-minded prospect, Alvarez was a first baseman in Cuba and has worked out for clubs in left field as well. Scouts who followed him since he left Cuba said his defense will need improvement at first base, where he plays upright with limited flexibility.”

He got the same bonus Ronny Brito got, and he’s a superior prospect to Alvarez. But the Dodger international scouting staff thought enough of the 19-year-old’s talent to invest $2 million ($4 million with the penalty/tax) in him.

That concludes the 2015-16 international signing period for the Dodgers. Here’s a recap of everyone I know who was signed by the Dodgers on the international front since July 2, 2015 (age is how old they were when the signed):

Player Position Age Country Bonus
Yaisel Sierra RHP 24 Cuba $30,000,000
Yadier Alvarez RHP 19 Cuba $16,000,000
Yusniel Diaz OF 18 Cuba $15,500,000
Omar Estevez 2B/SS 16 Cuba $6,000,000
Starling Heredia OF 16 Dominican Rep. $2,600,000
Yordan Alvarez 1B/OF 19 Cuba $2,000,000
Ronny Brito SS 16 Dominican Rep. $2,000,000
Oneal Cruz 3B 16 Dominican Rep. $950,000
Carlos Rincon OF 17 Dominican Rep. $350,000
Damaso Marte, Jr. RHP 17 Dominican Rep. $300,000
Luis Rodriguez SS 16 Venezuela $62,500
Ramon Rasso RHP 19 Dominican Rep. $60,000
Aldo Espinoza 2B 16 Nicaragua $50,000
Kevin Aponte OF 18 Venezuela unknown
Pascal Amon OF 18 Germany unknown
Oscar Arzaga RHP 17 Mexico/USA unknown
Andres Ayon OF 21 Mexico unknown
Leowis Blanco RHP 21 Venezuela unknown
Jair Camargo C 16 Colombia unknown
Saul Castellanos RHP 18 Mexico unknown
Jeronimo Castro RHP 19 Dominican Rep. unknown
Jose Chacin RHP 19 Venezuela unknown
Jorge Gonzalez LHP 19 Mexico unknown
Jose Hernandez LHP 18 Dominican Rep. unknown
Juan Herrera RHP 20 Dominican Rep. unknown
Confesor Inoa RHP 20 Dominican Rep. unknown
Sauryn Lao SS 16 Dominican Rep. unknown
Ronaldo Lebron OF 18 Dominican Rep. unknown
Mike Loaisiga SS 16 Nicaragua unknown
Santos Mateo RHP 19 Dominican Rep. unknown
Johan Mena RHP 18 Dominican Rep. unknown
Juan Morillo RHP 17 Venezuela unknown
Orlandy Navarro RHP 17 Venezuela unknown
Luis Pasen RHP 21 Dominican Rep. unknown
Maikel Pineda IF 19 Dominican Rep. unknown
Oliver Polanco RHP 20 Dominican Rep. unknown
William Poz P ? unknown unknown
Gervin Ramones C 17 Venezuela unknown
Mervin Romero 2B 16 Venezuela unknown
Elio Serrano RHP 16 Venezuela unknown
Raymond Taveras RHP 21 Dominican Rep. unknown
Andres Uribna RHP 20 Venezuela unknown
Ronald Valenzuela C 19 Dominican Rep. unknown
Leonel Valera SS 16 Venezuela unknown
Juan Camilo Zabala C 16 Colombia unknown
Total $46,374,500
International pool $700,000
100% tax $45,674,500
Total w/ 100% tax $92,049,500*

*- Not a precise calculation, but Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com said the Dodgers were looking at about $45 million in taxes, so this is about right.

That’s 45 players, as best as I was able to find. I’m sure it’s not the complete list, but it’s the most comprehensive list you’ll find today. If a player receives a bonus of $10,000 or less, it will not count against the international bonus pool. Most of the players’ whose bonus is “unknown” probably fall into this category, save some of the 16- or 17-year-olds, including Arzaga. Click his name in the table to read about his signing. I’m not sure he got a 7-figure bonus, but I suspect he got a bonus that will count against the pool on some level.

Here’s a refresher on the international signing rules.

The international signing period, known as the July 2 period, is the time when teams can sign international prospects not subject to the MLB Draft. Like the draft, there are signing restrictions. There are bonus allotments teams cannot exceed without penalties.

When the 2016-17 international signing period opens (runs from July 2 through June 15), the Dodgers will be restricted to no more than a $300,000 bonus for any player. They have $2,118,900 to spend on players. As far as I know, they can still trade for international slot money. If so, they can trade for up to half of their 2016-17 pool ($1,059,450). The most they could have is $3,178,350. They can spread the money around to a number of prospects, but if they max out at $300,000, they can sign 10 players. I doubt that will happen, but they will sign some players. For context: Rubby De La Rosa was signed for $15,000, so there is talent to be had out there that does not cost a lot of money to acquire.

Here’s how it works, via the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Overage (percentage) Penalty (taxed amount)
0-4.99 75 percent tax
5-9.99 75 percent tax
One bonus of more than $500,000
10-14.99 100 percent tax
No bonuses more than $500,000
15-plus 100 percent tax
No bonuses more than $300,000

The Dodgers fell into the final bracket during the 2015-16 period.

Sierra doesn’t fall under the restrictions, so his $30 million isn’t accounted for in the overall total. Neither would any player who is 23 years of age or older (i.e. Yulieski Gurriel, Jose Miguel Fernandez, Lordes Gurriel … in October).

So the Dodgers spent more than $90 million on international free agents. That’s more than some MLB invest into their roster for an entire season. While they opted to pass on signing Yoan Moncada (not without a last-ditch effort, though), the Dodgers landed some top-level talent. If even one of these guys turns out to be a regular MLB player, the investment will have been worth it. A lot of these guys are young and we won’t see them for a few years, but there are definitely some lottery tickets in there.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.