The Los Angeles Dodgers wasted little time to exceed their allotted bonus pool money when the international signing period opened last July.
Their haul included Yadier Alvarez, a 19-year-old Cuban right-hander signed to a $16-million contract, and Dominican prospects such as outfielder Starling Heredia and shortstop Ronny Brito. Then in January, the Dodgers reportedly agreed to a six-year contract with Cuban righty Yaisel Sierra.
In exceeding their bonus pool money, the Dodgers are paying a 100 percent tax penalty on dollars 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 July 2016.
While Sierra reached an agreement with the Dodgers last month, the club has yet to make the deal official. That appears to be a matter of resolving paperwork, according to Jon Heyman:
Yaisel Sierra dodgers deal (for 30-31M) is on track, with only paperwork issues, nothing major, to go, i'm hearing
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 11, 2016
Speaking at the Dodgers FanFest event on Jan. 30, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the club hoped to have Sierra in camp for Spring Training. “It’s a complicated process. It’s going to take time and there isn’t a ton of transparency as to how that works in terms of timing,” Friedman said.
“But, we’re hopeful we’ll have him in Spring Training when pitchers and catchers report.” Sierra left Cuba last April and was declared a free agent by Major League Baseball last December. In four seasons spent pitching in the Cuban League, he was 16-21 with a 4.23 ERA and 1.49 WHIP.
Sierra has experience as a starter, but exclusively pitched out of the bullpen during the 2014 season. With a mid-90s fastball, he conceivably could compete for a spot in the Dodgers bullpen this spring.
At this stage it appears the Dodgers’ initial focus is to develop Sierra as a starting pitcher.