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International Report: Indians are active signing six players

International Report: Indians are active signing six players
Photo: Washington Post
July 3, 2014
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The International Signing Period is one of the times I get the most questions. The reason for this is it is a confusing system and the penalties seem to be a non-factor to most teams. I mean the Yankees spent $18 million on Wednesday, which would have been 25% of the total spending of last year just by the Yankees.

So the way the International period works is teams are given different pool amounts. The teams are given the largest pool based on reverse record of the year before. It’s basically setup just like the draft, but without any form of compensation picks. The Indians this year have $1,980,700 to spend and that total is broken down into four slots which can be traded. Teams often do trade these slots and it is another asset for teams. This is also great for teams who went way over the pool the year before as they can trade these slots and lose out on nothing.

I keep mentioning the penalties because they are a big deal. In the baseball draft teams are limited out of fear of losing picks. In the International period the biggest penalty a team can sustain is paying 100% tax on all money over the pool along with being limited to only being able to spend a max of $250K on any single player the next year. They don’t lose any pool money; they just pay a tax and can’t sign a high price talent the next year.

Just to illustrate how broken this approach is all one has to do is look at the spending on the first day. As of the time of this article the Yankees had a pool total of $2,193,100, yet so far they have spent $18.5 million and that will surely rise to over $20 million. If the Yankees do spent exactly $20 million they will have to pay just shy of $18 million in taxes bringing the total bill to almost $40 million which is a total no small or even mid-market team can hope to contend with.

The Yankees are just a great example of a broken system but they are far from the only team who exploit it. The Red Sox are also spending heavily this year, and last year the Cubs and Rangers went well over pool. Get ready for the approach where the even years it’s the Yankees and the Red Sox getting all the big names and then in odd years it will be the Cubs and Rangers.  What they all have in common is market size. Teams like the Indians can’t hope to contend. It is funny because this new system was meant to help out smaller teams and it has done exactly the opposite once teams figured out how to break the system.

The exploitation of the system has led to an increase in talk of an International draft. This has been talked about so often before that the system is basically in place. I expect within the next five years the draft will be implemented.

So on the first day one might wonder what the Indians were doing while the Yankees spent $18.5 million. Well the Indians ended up spending $1.265 million on six players. I will give a brief scouting report on each. A quick note is that every single one of these players is from the Dominican Republic which the Indians seem especially focused on this year.

- Leonardo Rodriquez is a big right-handed pitcher at 6’7”. He is sitting in the low 90’s already at 16, so needless to say Rodriquez projects as a big power pitcher with mid to high 90’s velocity. His secondary stuff is basically nonexistent, but it often is for most 16 year olds. He was one of the most expensive signs at $300K, but should be an interesting arm to follow.

- Another 300K signing was Christopher Cespedes. He is 6’3” and 16 years old, so is another man-sized player here. Cespedes hits from the right side and seems like a future corner outfielder. His best tool is listed as power, and his power from the right side does matchup with the Indians biggest need in the minors. I already was asked if there is any relation to Yeonis, but seeing as Yeonis is from Cuba and Christopher from the Dominican Republic this would seem very unlikely.

- The last of the $300K signings was Oscar Gonzales. He is a lot like Cespedes as he is also 16 and currently is 6’3” with power projection from the right side. He has a much stronger arm though, and is also ticketed to the corner of the outfield in his future. The fun fact that was associated with him was that his trainer in the Dominican was a former pop singer who had a song peak in the 40’s on Billboard’s Latin chart.

- For $200K they added Julio Cabrera, a left handed outfielder who profiles in center field. He is not a lead off type as he only has average speed. It was his hit tool with a nice line drive stroke that got him signed. He is about 6’ tall and has a good arm. It seems with the signings that the Indians have created an outfield to grow together. I think all three of them will start out together and hopefully excel and move up the ranks together.

- The first signing I read about was Henderson D’Oleo, a big right handed third baseman who signed for $165K. He like all the other signees is 16, but is the second biggest at 6’4”. His best tool is viewed as his right handed power, which was a target of the Indians. This system really lacks right-handed bats in general, and it was nice to see them focus on this need. Henderson was also listed as having a strong arm and trained with the same trainer who worked with Julio Cabrera.

- The last player I heard about was another 16 year old Dominican player named Orlando Cedeno. He is a right-handed pitcher who is on the smaller side at 6’1” but his fastball has already hit the low 90’s. His trainer is Pedro Martinez’s father in law, so he might also be getting tips from Pedro from time to time and has worked with him already.

I will have more updates as players sign. I have heard a few reports on other players, but until I find two sources I can’t confirm the signing.  So stay tuned for updates as the Indians keep adding more talent to their system.

Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffmlbdraft, or email him at

User Comments

July 3, 2014 - 7:30 PM EDT
It doesn't make sense for the Tribe to spend millions and limit themselves in the next few yrs to low price signings. That hamstrings their own effort. Yes the Yankees will benefit from signing so many guys, but consider the cost to develop for the price spent it doesn't equate. The Yankees might get a few big leaguers out of this effort, but all of these guys are yrs away. It seems more logical for the Tribe to target players they like - maximize their effort by acq. more draft pks and IFA pool space (on either front) and spending over their pool allotments by less than 5% avoiding penalty. Another way to handle it is acq. some these younger IFA through trades, instead of settling for a player with low ceiling that might contribute sooner - target some upside IFA - letting another org. foot the bonus money, but being patient for them to wait for the return. Furthermore, the player would have somewhat of a track record whereby the Tribe could project them better. Btw, prospects like Luis Lugo and Francisco Mejia signed for less than $500 K each. I'd rather have both than one similar player with a thicker wallet. Signing 16 yo is not the same as drafting 18 / 21 yo, far more risk / projection going into the signing with these 16 yo phenoms.
July 3, 2014 - 7:18 PM EDT
Meh. Looks like the slotting system doesn't do much other than cost the big spenders a bunch of money every other year. I don't think that was the point. Maybe if MLB did something like taking the tax amount, divide it equally, and add it to the bonus pools of every team that has not paid the tax in the prior 2 seasons? This way it prevents team from the 'every other year' model and puts a real onus on staying under that tax. Just a thought.
July 3, 2014 - 5:43 PM EDT
Agree, Chip, but the $17.2 million is a pittance compared to the much more imposing hurdles small-market clubs face in major league free agency. In my opinion the Indians, as well as all clubs, should not be cutting corners on international signings. When looking at the small amount of dollars spent -- small only when comparing it to major league and, to a lesser extent, entry-draft spending -- singing the small-market blues doesn't cut it with me in this deal.
July 3, 2014 - 5:34 PM EDT
How is there any competative balance when the Yankees can spend 18.5 mil and the Indians can only muster less than 1.3. God I hate the Yankees!

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