Cubs Added Quality and Quantity to the System with International Signings

Baseball America posted a review last month of the players the Cubs signed on the International amateur market this past year. The Cubs not only signed several of the top rated prospects that were available, the team signed a total of 27 players and according to Baseball America, “no team landed more potential impact talent on the international amateur market last year that the Cubs.”

PrintAccording to MLB.com’s ranking of the top 30 International prospects that were available on July 2, the Cubs signed five of those players and handed out large signing bonuses to eight players.

OF Eloy Jimenez ($2.8 million, plus $250,000 college scholarship), SS Gleyber Torres ($1.7 million), RHP Jefferson Mejia ($850,000), RHP Erling Moreno ($650,000), C Yohan Matos ($270,000) and RHP Jen-Ho Tseng ($1.625 million) headlined the class and according to Baseball America, the Cubs also signed SS Jesus Gonzalez for $100,000.

Wladimir Galindo posted on his Twitter account in December that he signed with the Cubs. The team did not verify the signing at the time. But that has changed. The Cubs confirmed signing Galindo, and he has reported to the Cubs complex in Mesa to prepare for the season. The 17-year old infielder is 6-foot-3, 210 pounds and is from Venezuela. Galindo has very good speed (70-80 on the scouting scale) with a 40-50 arm. Jonathan Mayo reported “scouts like his big body and raw power” and he “has a knack for putting the barrel of his bat on the ball.” Galindo might be able to stay in the infield (shortstop or third base) but he could end up in a corner outfield spot.

The Cubs confirmed the signings of several players at the end of the year on the official transactions page. The team signed right-handed pitchers Santiago Rodriguez and Deibi Torres, catcher Luis Hidalgo and outfielder Luis Ubiera.

Santiago Rodriguez is 19 years old (June 14, 1994) from the Dominican Republic. The right hander is 6-foot-0 and 185 pounds. Deibi Torres is also 19 years old (Dec. 8, 1994) and from the Dominican Republic. Torres is 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds. Luis Hidalgo just turned 18 (Feb. 23, 1996) and the 6-foot-1, 190-pound catcher is from Venezuela. Luis Ubiera is 17 years old (Sept. 17, 1996) and the 6-foot-2, 170-pound outfielder is from the Dominican Republic.

International Spending

Baseball America reported in February that teams spent more money in the International market than ever before. Major League Baseball spent just under $100 million ($97 million) on International players up $13 million from 2012.

The Cubs handed out the top signing bonus on the International market to outfielder Eloy Jimenez. The Cubs signed Jimenez for $2.8 million.

The Cubs far surpassed their bonus pool ($8.22 million) and will not be able to sign a player this year (July 2 2014-2015 signing period) for more than $250,000. The Cubs found a loophole in the system and exploited it. With less high-end projectable talent expected to be available this year, the Cubs opened the checkbook and spent on what they felt like was a better talent pool. The Cubs will be able to trade their pool money and should add talent to the system after July 2 even with the spending limitations on the International market. The Cubs spent the second most money of any big league team, just behind the $8.42 million the Rangers handed out this year.

According to Baseball America, the estimates for each team was based on what was spent during the 2013 calendar year and does not include players who are exempt from the bonus pools. International players that “are at least 23 years old and played at least three full seasons in a foreign professional league” do not fall under the International signing rules.

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  • Zonk

    The Yankees are rumored to be telling IFA agents that they are willing to spend upwards of $30 mil this year in IFA. Once you decide to blow past the barriers, you may as well go crazy and corner the market: The Yankees are just taking the Cubs/Rangers strategy a step further.

    No doubt this loophole is closing shortly, and probably this moves the system one step further toward an IFA Draft. I for one do NOT want that to happen, as the current system at least rewards clubs who invest in IFA scouting and development. With a draft, everyone can just wait for the their pick.

    • cubtex

      This is a way to replenish the farm system while still trying to win.

      • Tony_H

        LOL!!! Signing mostly 16/17 year old IFA’s is a long term plan. Not going to replenish even short season A ball for 2-3 years.

        • Zonk

          You are both right; Yankees are trying to grab talent while winning, but it has a long-term payoff

          • Tony_H

            I agree it is a smart thing to do for the long term planning that every team should be doing.

  • Zonk

    Back in the ’00s, the Cubs organization made a big commitment to Asia, having D-Lee’s dad head up the operation out there, and being very active in signing Asian IFA’s. Cubs thought they were getting out ahead of everyone, and some lauded their efforts to be among the first-movers in a growing market.

    We have to say though the payoff has been minimal; Hee Seop Choi got us D-Lee, but aside from him the only impact prospect from Asia we got was Hak Ju Lee, and he’s still a prospect….not good.

    It takes a long time to assess IFA impact, but Asia doesn’t look like it’s great. And our Latin American signings from the 00’s, other than Castro and Alcantara, we haven’t done that great either; most clubs in our division except maybe Brew Crew have had more IFA production than we have

    • DWalker

      I would say the cubs were on the right track but squandered the oppertunity. I tend to think that the issue here is maybe not so much in base quality of players from these regions so much as it lies with the farm system once they are signed and even maybe a lack of scouting and resources to sign top quality recruits. Our farm system has been pretty abysimal in developing players at any level from any region, let alone impact talent so I would look there first for the problem.