It’s July 2, the start of the 2015-16 International signing period and the Cubs are expected to be very active on the International free agent market.
The Cubs were limited to signing players for $250,000 or less during the 2014-15 International signing period that ended on June 15. The Cubs are expected to exceed its $3,230,700 bonus pool for the 2015-16 signing period to the point of being restricted to signing players to $300,000 or less for the next two signing periods and paying the 100 percent tax for the overage exceeding 15 percent.
The Cubs can add bonus pool money through trades that could bring the International signing bonus pool to a little less than $5 million ($4,846,050).
The Cubs have been connected to several of the top International prospects and are one of many teams that have shown serious interest in OF Eddy Julio Martinez. Reports have indicated the Cubs already have agreements in place with several players and were waiting until the team could officially sign those players on July 2.
As of Wednesday, Ben Badler still had the Cubs as the favorites to sign SS Aramis Ademan, SS Yonathan Perlaza, C Miguel Amaya and RHP Anderson Amarista. The Cubs have also been connected to LHP Brailyn Marquez and OF Jose Gutierrez.
Theo Epstein said last week it makes a lot of sense for the Cubs to push the envelope and sign as many International free agents as possible. With picking lower in the draft and possibly being active in free agency, the Cubs need to make sure there is plenty of talent in the system.
SS Gleyber Torres, OF Eloy Jimenez and RHP Jen-Ho Tseng were signed during the 2013-14 International signing period.
Here is the list of players the Cubs have been heavily linked to for several months. And it has been reported the Cubs have deals in place with several of players.
Aramis Ademan, SS (Dominican Republic)
Scouting Grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 35 | Run: 50 | Arm: 50 | Field: 60
Age: 16 (Sept. 13, 1998) – 5-foot-10, 150 pounds – Bats: L Throws R
Aramis Ademan has “the best hands out there right now, no question” according to MLB.com. Ademan has “opened eyes with his athletic ability and skills on defense.” And scouts expect him to grow into his frame. Ademan has shown the ability to hit in games among intense competition. Considered a glove-first player right now that “has to get stronger and become more physical as he matures.”
Ademan is a slick fielder with quick hands and he should stick at shortstop. Ademan has an advanced feel for contact. – Estimated Signing Bonus: $2 million
Christopher Martinez, 3B (Dominican Republic)
Scouting Grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 30 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50
Age: 15 (June 28, 1999) – 5-foot-11, 180 pounds – Bats: R Throws R
Christopher Martinez is “considered one of the top infielders in this year’s class.” Martinez has an average arm that should improve as he matures. Martinez has “good defensive instincts and quick hands.” And there is potential for more offense. Martinez has shown the ability to spray the ball to all fields, with patience and plate discipline in games.
Martinez has average raw power with above average bat speed. – Estimated Signing Bonus: $1.5 million
Yonathan Perlaza, SS (Venezuela)
Scouting Grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 50 | Run: 50 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50
Age: 16 (Nov. 10, 1998) – 5-foot-8, 175 pounds – Bats: S Throws R
MLB.com said to “picture Martin Prado as a teenager, that’s how some scouts view Perlaza.”
Yonathan Perlaza is considered one of the better hitters of this year’s class, while there is a chance he could stay at shortstop, there is “a belief he will end up at second base.” Perlaza has “been praised for his swing and strong wrists, leading some scouts to believe that he could hit some home runs and drive the ball into the gaps” as he matures. Fundamentally sound “in all areas of his game” but his “bat, now and in the future, that makes him an appealing prospect.”
Perlaza has a smooth swing and produces hard contact. – Estimated Signing Bonus: $1.2 million
Miguel Amaya, C (Panama)
Scouting Grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 40 | Run: 20 | Arm: 60 | Field: 60
Age: 16 (March 9, 1999) – 6-foot, 160 pounds – Bats: L Throws R
Scouts have seen that Miguel Amaya can hit but he has really impressed them with his defense. Amaya “looks the part” of a catcher, calls a good game and “takes control behind the plate.” Amaya has the potential to have a “plus-arm and could be a plus defender.” The opinions vary slightly on his defense, but according to MLB.com, “it’s impossible to ignore the total package and overall potential he presents.”
Amaya has a smooth swing and hits to all fields – Estimated Signing Bonus: $1.2 million
Anderson Amarista, RHP (Venezuela)
Anderson Amarista is 6-foot, 178 pounds and the right-hander sits 85-87 mph with his fastball and has touched 91 mph while flashing a solid average curveball. – Estimated Signing Bonus: $1 million
Yunior Perez, RHP (Dominican Republic)
Yunior Perez is 6-foot-3, 175 pounds and features a 90-93 mph fastball with a below average curveball. – Estimated Signing Bonus – $650,000
Luis Diaz, SS (Dominican Republic)
Luis Diaz is 5-foot-9, 155 pounds and is a plus runner that has a chance to stay at shortstop. Diaz has a good feel for hitting but has below average power from the right side. – Estimated Signing Bonus: $350,000
Yonathan Sierra Estiwal, OF
Scouting Grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 40 | Arm: 45 | Field: 45
Age: 16 (Oct. 17, 1998) – 6-foot-3, 205 pounds – Bats: L Throws L
MLB.com reported that “one famous player comes to mind when scouts talk about Estiwal: Darryl Strawberry.”
Yonathan Sierra Estiwal is a “tall and lanky left-handed hitter and thrower with some raw power.” Estiwal is projected as a right fielder and that is where the comp to Strawberry comes in. Estiwal has a “graceful swing, and scouts like his ability to barrel up balls.” Can hit to all fields, shown power in games and the ability to hit for power to opposite field,” described as a “good baseball player who knows the game.”
If the front office signs the players the Cubs have been linked to there is going to be a lot of impact talent added to the organization.