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:
— Dustin Nosler (@DustinNosler) June 15, 2016
Real quick on Yordan (have been told some have seen Yoridan) Alvarez. Corner-only, big raw power projection.
— Eric Longenhagen (@longenhagen) June 16, 2016
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):
|Starling Heredia||OF||16||Dominican Rep.||$2,600,000|
|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|
|Ramon Rasso||RHP||19||Dominican Rep.||$60,000|
|Jeronimo Castro||RHP||19||Dominican Rep.||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|
|Santos Mateo||RHP||19||Dominican Rep.||unknown|
|Johan Mena||RHP||18||Dominican Rep.||unknown|
|Luis Pasen||RHP||21||Dominican Rep.||unknown|
|Maikel Pineda||IF||19||Dominican Rep.||unknown|
|Oliver Polanco||RHP||20||Dominican Rep.||unknown|
|Raymond Taveras||RHP||21||Dominican Rep.||unknown|
|Ronald Valenzuela||C||19||Dominican Rep.||unknown|
|Juan Camilo Zabala||C||16||Colombia||unknown|
|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.