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2024 International Free Agents

On Monday, January 15, the International Free Agents signing period officially opens.  These are generally 16 year olds signing, but who have agreements in place with their prospective teams since they were 13-14.  Typically, once a player in the Dominican Republic or Venezuela commits to sign with a team, he stops doing showcases and is no longer scouted much in a competitive environment by other clubs.

Ben Badler is the International Amateur guru writing for Baseball America, and has been evaluating international talent for over a decade.  Baseball America publishes an annual Top 50 IFA with Scouting Reports.  These are published in the expected bonus amount order, not necessarily how they stack up against one another.   The Dodgers were originally slotted with a $5.925MM bonus pool, but lose $1MM due to signing Shohei Ohtani (a player who rejected a QO).

While the international signing period opens on January 15, international prospects often have agreements to sign in place going back three or more years to when they were 13 or 14.  They are just now making it official.

Of the top 50 published by BA, each MLB team had at least one.  Toronto will be signing 4 of the top 50.  Oakland and Milwaukee will be signing 3 each.  Cincinnati, Washington, Minnesota, Texas, Seattle, NYM, KC, Pittsburgh, Arizona, NYY, San Francisco, and Baltimore will be signing 2 of the top 50 each.  The remainder of teams have one each.

After signing Dominican SS, Joendry Vargas in 2023, the Dodgers went back to the Dominican and will be signing Emil Morales.  Per Baseball America:

  1. Emil Morales, SS, Dominican Republic

Born: Sept. 22, 2006. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 185.

Team: Dodgers

Morales consistently strings together quality at-bats. He has a mature offensive approach, recognizes pitches well and has performed well against live pitching. It’s a sound swing for his age with power that has trended up as he has added strength to his lower half and should spike more in the coming years. Morales is an offensive-oriented shortstop who is built more like a third baseman, with many scouts believing he will slide over to third base in the near future. He’s a below-average runner who is a steady defender on the balls he gets to at shortstop with a solid-average arm, though his actions and mobility likely fit best at third base. 

 

 

 

The Dodgers have not consistently signed elite international free agents during the AF era.  AF inherited an international scouting team that was the impetus for signing the 2015-2016 IFA class and Cuban infielder, Hector Olivera.  Olivera was a bust with a 6-year $62.5MM contract.

The 2015-2016 IFA Class?

 

 

 

From the list above:

Yadier Álvarez – Not affiliated with any MLB team.  Elected FA after 2022, and has not signed with another team.

Yusniel Diaz – Traded to Baltimore in the Manny Machado trade (2018).  Diaz spent all of 2023 back with the Dodgers at AA.  He is currently affiliated with SF.

Omar Estévez – Out of affiliated baseball.  Last played in the 2022-2023 Mexico and Puerto Rico Winter Leagues.

Starling Heredia – Out of Baseball.  Last played 2019.

Yordan Álvarez – Traded to Houston for Josh Fields. On the Houston ML roster.  Won AL ROY 2019.

Ronny Brito – Currently not assigned to any ML affiliate.  Last played 2021.

Oneil Cruz – Traded to Pittsburgh in the Tony Watson trade.

Christopher Arias – Out of Baseball.  Last played 2017.

Carlos Rincón – Signed by NYM as a FA.  Currently a FA.  Last played 2022 in AAA with NYM.

Damaso Marte Jr. – Out of Baseball.  Released by LAD February 2017.

Luis Rodriguez – The first Luis Rodriguez is out of baseball.  Released November 17, 2019.

Ramon Rasso – Released by LAD 07-15-16.  Signed with Philadelphia (2016-2021).  Signed with Detroit (2022).  Released by Detroit, May 27, 2022.

Aldo Espinoza – Out of Baseball.  Released by Dodgers July 1, 2020.

 

After that signing period debacle, the Dodgers fired the international scouting director and most (if not all the scouts), and hired Ismael Cruz from Toronto (11-09-2015) to restructure the international scouting department for the Dodgers.  He had to not only build the infrastructure of a vast department, but had to sign players with a very limited bonus pool.  For the next two signing periods, the Dodgers had their max contract amount limited to $300K.

In 2016-2017, the Dodgers signed Dominican SS Alberto Suarez for a bonus of $300,000.  They later signed former Top 30 prospect LHP Robinson Ortiz in that same period.

The team’s bonus pool for the 2016-2017 period was $2,118,900. Rather than sign a bevy of questionable international free agents, these bonus slots could be traded, which the Dodgers did, and received pitchers Caleb Dirks and Chase De Jong, outfielder Jordan Paroubeck and infielder Tim Locastro in trades with Atlanta and Toronto.

The Dodgers also signed in 2016, RHP, Yaisel Sierra for $30MM for 6 years,  He was released after 5.

Per Bluto and his reference from Twitter:

Ismael Cruz’s 1st real IFA group (2017-2018), max bonus was still 300k:

  • Miguel Vargas – Still with LAD – 40 man
  • Andy Pages – Still with LAD – 40 man – #6 LAD Prospect
  • Jorbit Vivas – Traded to NYY in Trey Sweeney trade
  • Eddys Leonard – Sold to Detroit at the 2023 trade deadline
  • Guillermo Zuniga – Elected FA after 2022 and signed with St. Louis – Made MLB debut in 2023 – Went on IL with right forearm strain
  • Darien Núñez – LAD Released after 2022. Was signed by SF. Elected FA after 2023.  Has not signed.
  • Carlos Duran – Still with LAD. Had TJ surgery in 2022.

The Dodgers returned with zero limitation for the 2018-2019 international free agent signing period.  They started out with who is now the LAD #3 prospect, Venezuelan catcher Diego Cartaya.  That was followed by current #19 prospect, José Ramos (Tulsa – AA).   Also in that class is  3B Alex De Jesus, and RHPs Hyun-il Choi (Great Lakes – A+), Jerming Rosario (Great Lakes – A+), Edgardo Henriquez (rehabbing from TJ in 2023).

Alex DeJesus was traded to Toronto with Mitch White.  The Dodgers received RHSP Nick Frasso (current #4 prospect on 40 man) and LHP Moises Brito (ACL).

The 2019-2020 international free agent class was highlighted by Venezuelan LHH OF Luis Rodriguez.  In a year when NYY OF prospect Jasson Dominguez was the overwhelming clear star, the Dodgers signing was considered an elite prospect on his own.  That has not translated into success on the baseball diamond, but he is still only 21, and played full-season A ball at Rancho.

Also selected in this signing period is Venezuelan catcher Yeiner Fernandez (#26 in LAD Top 30).  He is 21 years old and played with Great Lakes (A+)  Typically with the Dodgers, he is now playing some back at his original position, 2B, and played some SS in AFL.  It seemed to work for Craig Biggio.  Who knows?  Yeiner remains a favorite of mine that I will continue to follow closely.  His path may be easier in the infield than behind the dish.

2021 — Wilman Diaz (IFA #2), Jesus Galiz (IFA #7) – Both have been included in Top 30, and both have been removed from the top prospect list

2022 — Samuel Muñoz (IFA #7), Accimias Morales (IFA #37) – Muñoz is LAD Prospect #22.  Josue De Paula was not included in IFA Top 30, and is currently #7 LAD prospect.

2023 — Joendry Vargas (IFA #3), Arnaldo Lantigua (IFA #23) – Vargas is LAD Prospect #12.  Eduardo Quintero was not included in the Top 50 IFA, and is not yet in the LAD Top 30 prospect list.

Let’s hope that Emil Morales lines up more with Muñoz, De Paula, Vargas, and Quintero than Wilman Diaz or Luis Rodriguez.  The last two years have provided multiple potential top prospects and perhaps will become top MLB players.

The Dodgers will have many more selections, and we can provide an update after January 15.

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Oldbear48

Great information on kids I have no clue about. Hopefully they get better than they were in the beginning at this. Rumor on Yahoo Sports that the Yankees are going to extend Soto and he is going to get 500 mil.

Bumsrap

Yeiner Fernandez intrigues me. I think he will wind up replacing Taylor when the latter’s contract expires. Hopefully he will keep getting innings at catcher and give them a third string catcher while playing just about everywhere else.

I think Joendry Vargas has a very good chance to be the Dodgers third baseman down the road with Josue De Paula in left field. Maybe Pages in right field.

Hopefully Lux will be a long term shortstop and gets a 6 year extension this year.

If all that were to work out the Dodgers would fill at least 4 positions that help keep them close to the CBT threshold.

Dionysus

Phil?

Bobby

Phil Conners?

Badger

6 weeks? Not in Arizona

Last edited 5 months ago by Badger
Bluto

International Free Agents is still, to me, the most chaotic part of MLB.

there is a good mix of corruption, unfairness from the CBA, and total randomness, because the kids are so young.

Bumsrap

I especially agree about age. A 15 year old boy that is 6 feet tall and 185 pounds can dominate against a better athletic that is shorter and skinnier than they will be in 5 years.

Badger

This field is where being able to see into the future comes in handy. Based on the Dodgers recent track record, they are not so good at it.

How does an organization get better at choosing kids from different cultures? It’s possible. It’s about skilled scouting. With people who live there.

Bumsrap

I rarely follow international players. The one time that I did I really wanted the Dodgers to grab Yoan Moncada. I think they passed because they had their eyes on Alvarez.

Bluto

This is well-reasoned and thoughtful, but I still don’t see AF doing it.

His MO seems to hold true:
Superstars or value.

And I don’t think Pham fits either.

Singing the Blue

2015-2016 draft class – Yordan Alvarez pretty much makes up for the lack of other successes all by himself.

And then there is Oneil Cruz who may yet prove to be an All Star. Still only 25.

I wouldn’t hate it if we signed Pham but I’d rather give LF to Vargas and if he can’t cut it, AF can always go fishing for someone at the deadline. Give him 1/2 a season, hopefully free from injury.

Time to cut Busch loose for what I hope would be a decent return and let him thrive somewhere that has room on the roster for him.

Here’s a thought from out of left field (both literally and figuratively). See if we can get Nolan Jones from the Rockies. He’s young, controllable, good fielder and hits both lefties and righties well.

Trade Simulator says the following would work:

1) Busch, Knack, Wrobleski, Liranzo
2) Busch, Pages
3) Pages, Stone
4) Cartaya, Grove, Margot (or sub River Ryan for Grove)
or any number of other combinations.

I realize the Rockies have no need or desire to trade him, but I’ll get Bums involved and they will certainly listen.

Last edited 5 months ago by Singing the Blue
Bumsrap

Spend billions on good clubhouse players and then mix in Pham? I’d rather hear banjos while walking in the woods.

Nolan Jones would be nice although he is a lefty bat. Who would he replace on the 26?

Singing the Blue

His splits are almost negligible and he actually hits slightly better against southpaws, so another lefty bat is no problem here.

He can replace Margot. He plays all three outfield positions.
Or if both Vargas and Busch are traded or sent to OKC, he can take up that spot.
Or (here’s one just for you, Fred) we can include CT3 in the trade for him and throw in some $. Rojas can cover 2B, 3B and SS and we’d have plenty of outfielders.
Or trade Rojas and keep CT3, but that’s only if AF would be OK with making him the every day SS if Lux can’t make it.

Bumsrap

I was impressed with his splits but they suffered small sample size conundrums. Make it happen Blue.

Singing the Blue

I thought you were the guy to make it happen.

Bumsrap

I thought you would comment on the banjo sentence I slipped in, apparently not so cleverly but I at least thought it was.

Badger

I liked it. Well Delivered.

Last edited 5 months ago by Badger
Bumsrap

Exactly

Singing the Blue

Hey Bums, I think Jeff D. is dissing us. I think we should ban him from this blog.  😂 

Everyone has a price, Jeff. And I’ll bet you that the price for Jones is quite a bit less than for Witt, Holliday, Henderson, Perez, Carroll or De La Cruz. Maybe something similar to Gelof.

I count something like 14 or 15 starters whom we will have available within the next two seasons (including Gonsolin, May and Ohtani back from injury and Knack, Frasso, Ryan, Hurt and Stone who are within a year or two of being ready).

Why not bundle Busch with some of that pitching and see how much more it might take.

The only decent outfield prospect we have anywhere close to the majors is Pages and nobody has any idea how long it will take him to make it to L.A., or how good he’ll be when he gets here.

Instead of talking about these stop-gap solutions like Pham and Hernandez and Soler, etc., try to get a permanent solution by trading some of our excess.

Singing the Blue

Is anyone looking to trade Outman? If not, why would Colorado trade Jones, their best OF? “

One major difference, we are a team that is conceivably going to be in the WS next season. The Rockies are years away. That makes a huge difference in determining whether or not to trade an excellent young player.

If we give them Busch to make up for some of the hitting they would lose by trading Jones and then add 2 or 3 good young pitchers, something the Rox always seem to lack, they might just consider the trade. Or not.

Bumsrap

Look at what happens when I throw you some support instead of just saying the overused and very tired “that will never happen”. I get us both called a moron but instead of using that short and to the point word, we got a lot of sarcasm.

From Psychology Today: If you want to be happier and improve your relationships, cut out sarcasm. Why? Because sarcasm is actually hostility disguised as humor.

Last edited 5 months ago by Bumsrap
Bumsrap

Did Jeff piss me off? Apparently.

Bumsrap

“Is anyone looking to trade Outman? If not, why would Colorado trade Jones, their best OF? “

Is anyone trying to trade Acuna? If not, why would Colorado trade Jones, their best OF?

This logic, flawed as it is, could go on forever.

Is a trade ever made for a player that is not on the trade block? I am guessing yes. It might take an offer that might be an overpay, but then the Dodgers have the depth to offer an overpay.

Is Witt Jr. available? No. Is he on the trade block? No. Should he be? Maybe. Where there is a maybe, it isn’t crazy to fill the void of Hot Stove activity with a wild ass proposal. It might be outside the box but then so is trying to put Christmas decorations back in the same box they were in just a few weeks earlier.

Badger

“Yordan Alvarez pretty much makes up for the lack of other successes all by himself.”

I don’t count him. Yeah, the Dodgers signed him, but they let him go. This is another Konerko for Shaw blunder in my estimation.

Of all the international players the Dodgers have signed in the last 8 years, where are the stars?

Bluto

Can you explain further why he doesn’t count in your eyes? The dodgers signed him and he turned into a good player.

Are you saying it was the Houston development team that was instrumental?

Badger

I did explain Bluto.

The Dodgers signed him then let him go for a reliever. (Konerko/Shaw reference). At that time the Astros recognized the considerable talent in the 19 year old and traded a reliever, Fields, who had spent most of that year at AAA.

In my mind it’s one thing to sign a player, it’s another to let them go early. How good would Alvarez look in left field for the Dodgers now?

The question I raised was how many of the dozens of International Players the Dodgers have signed, and paid millions to, over the last 8 years are on the club now?

In the Dodgers history they have traded away, or flat out lost more players than they have retained. At the top of the list are Clemente, Pedro, Beltre, Konerko and now Alvarez. Not a great track record.

Maybe that will change soon. Hope so. Also doubt it.

OhioDodger

Seems the big question with Pham is his attitude and whether or not he would fit the Dodger clubhouse. He could potentially solidify LF for the Dodgers. And he won’t cost much. Is it worth it. Would be bad news for Busch and Vargas playing for the Dodgers and really makes them trade bait for pitching.

Badger

Hard to know what the Dodgers think of Busch and Vargas but signing Pham, a 36 year old 1.5 WAR left fielder, would sure send a loud message to every team out there they don’t think much of either one of them.

If an older veteran is the plan then get a legit thumper or go ahead and overpay for DeLauter if he’s the 3WAR player they need to add in the outfield.

I haven’t changed my mind yet. Vargas is on the team, Busch is traded for pitching and continue to stack the staff.

Last edited 5 months ago by Badger
88 Dodger

They’re going to hold back a lot to put it all on Roki Sasaki next December.

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