Heading into this year’s international signing period, which began July 2, the Los Angeles Dodgers faced the option of exceeding their roughly $2 million bonus pool, pay a penalty and be limited over the next two years, or stay under the limit and spend in 2016, and potentially 2017, without such restrictions.
Los Angeles went well beyond their allotted money, signing Yadier Alvarez, a 19-year-old Cuban right-hander to a $16-million contract, and Dominican prospects outfielder Starling Heredia and shortstop Ronny Brito, among others.
As a result, the Dodgers will pay a 100 percent tax penalty on money spent during the current signing period, and won’t be able to sign any international free agents for bonuses over $300,000 in each next two international signing periods, beginning in July 2016.
According to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, the club continued their spending in the international market by agreeing to terms with Yusniel Diaz and Omar Estevez:
Sources: Dodgers agree to $15.5 million deal with OF prospect Yusniel Diaz & $6M deal with INF Omar Estevez. Check https://t.co/mkcBseoZWQ
— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) November 22, 2015
Diaz, 18, is ranked by Baseball America as the No. 17 Cuban prospect. He was cleared to sign by Major League Baseball in August.
Diaz hit .348/.447/.440 in 250 plate appearances during the 2014-15 season, and defected shortly after the season came to an end. As for Estevez, 17, he benefitted greatly from MLB making an exception in his case.
Under MLB’s registration policy, any international player born after Sept. 1, 1995 must officially register with the commissioner’s office by May 15 in order to be eligible to sign during the signing period that begins two months later.
This created a hurdle for young Cuban prospects who must not only defect, but also establish residency in a foreign country before filing with the league. MLB ruled in September Estevez and 16-year-old outfielder Jonatan Machado were eligible for the 2015-16 signing period.
Estevez is not ranked among Baseball America’s top 20 Cuban Prospects.