It seems that 16-year old Cuban phenom Lazaro Armenteros (Lazarito in short) is going to make his decision about his first Major League Baseball team very soon, with nine ball clubs hoping it’s them, although the San Diego Padres, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs seem to be the favorites in signing him.
Armenteros has been declared eligible for free agency over a month ago by MLB. Since then he’s held a showcase workout and some private sessions with teams, the most recent of them on Monday, although the list of teams hasn’t been disclosed. He has worked out as centerfield and as a corner outfielder, with scouts praising his power, athleticism and speed. Total package?
Jesse Sanchez of MLB.Com ranks him 8th among international prospects and second among those that have not already signed. He’s listed at 6’2 and 205 lbs, which makes people wonder if he might not be too big for the majors, and have compared him to college football players, while still in his teenage years. The bigger he gets, the more likely he’ll end up being a corner outfielder.
It’s interesting how the international bonus pool things works with Armenteros in the middle. Braves, Phillies and Padres would need to either exceed their 2015-16 international bonus pool in order to sign Lazarito or convince him to wait until the 2016-17 international signing period before signing. It’s especially interesting considering the Phillies have a very special class according to reports coming in that period. Signing Lazarito would prevent the three teams to complete their future plans; his bonus would force the teams into penalty territory and bar them from signing a player for more than $300,000 in the 2016-17 and 2017-2018 classes.
Both the Cubs and Dodgers have already incurred maximum penalties for overshooting their pools, which means the cost to these clubs will be financial; Lazarito’s bonus + 100% luxury tax on the amount he signs. Teams like the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels, Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Rays are ineligible of signing Armenteros after exceeding their 2014-2015 bonus and incurring spending penalties on the international free agents class of this offseason and next year’s as well.