Monday was the beginning date, teams could sign their international free agents. Many LAD fans are bemoaning the fact that the Dodgers did not get any of the top IFA prospects earlier this week. Bluto put out a couple of names who were not highly ranked: Ronald Acuña Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr., and Julio Rodriguez. Add to that, Elly De La Cruz.
These kids are “chosen” at 13-14 and placed in their respective club’s academy. They are pretty much identified as that teams pick when they turn 16. They are not obligated to sign with that team, but they ALMOST ALWAYS do. Try going out and looking at the Pony League players (pre high school), and deciding which players to wrap up at that time.
The Dodgers have selected 19 IFA.
The prize is 17 year old SS Emil Morales (DR). They also believe they have a potential MLB OF in 17 year old Rafy Peguero (DR). I have already written on Morales. Some are already giving him favorable comps to Fernando Tatis Jr. at a similar age. Same physical build and power skill. I will follow up with more on Morales and Peguero as we get closer to the DSL.
There may not be a Ronald Acuña Jr., in that group, but they did sign Venezuelan teenage SS, Yojackson Loya, who is the cousin of Ronald Acuña Jr.
Not much is written on most of the others, but Josh Thomas shared this on 18 year old RHP Alexis Dominguez (DR).
New Dodger prospect Alexis Dominguez side by side with Camilo Doval, full speed and 25%. 18 years old, room for like 20-30 lbs on his frame, and already up to 95, this kid might see triple digits some day. pic.twitter.com/sQCvvTZlVq
— Josh Thomas (@jokeylocomotive) January 16, 2024
The Dodgers scaled back their selection for 2024. Intentionally? I do not believe it was, but they may reap benefits from that. Their bonus pool was already diminished. But their focus seems to be clearly on the young (22) Japanese RHP, Rōki Sasaki. Under the collective bargaining agreement, international free agents under the age of 25 are subject to international bonus pool money restrictions.
It is being reported that Sasaki will follow the path of Shohei Ohtani, allowing him to enter into the MLB IFA “draft” for 2024. This could be a significant loss of a potential signing contract similar to what Yoshinobu Yamamoto signed for, but the idea of pitching in MLB is what is driving Sasaki.
What makes this interesting, is that Sasaki can only sign for what the team has remaining in their IFA bonus.
The Dodgers could very well have more in their pool remaining that will give them a leg up on their competition. Plus, MLB teams can trade for IFA dollars, and often do. Bonus pool dollars can be traded in $250K increments, up until the point that a team has less than that amount remaining, when all of whatever pool space is left would have to be included in the deal.
Last year, the Dodgers traded a pair of young RHP prospects to CWS for IFA money: 19 year old Maximo Martinez and 20 year old Aldrin Batista. The IFA bonus money supplemented what they retained from their 2023 pool and allowed them to sign 19 year old top Korean High School pitcher, RHP Hyun-Seok Jang for $900K.
How much will the Dodgers retain? How much can they accumulate with trades for IFA money? My guess is that everything this year will be geared to sign Sasaki. He will have to sign before December 15, which is the final day that a 2024 IFA can sign. Shohei Ohtani originally signed for $2.315MM with the Angels.
MLB wants to make the IFA “draft” into an actual draft, whereby the player is drafted and signed as are the players in US amateur draft. MLBPA says No Bloody Way. Albeit they are getting closer to finding a compromise position to allow for MLB to change the format into a formal draft.
In the summer of 2022, the final significant piece of business from collective bargaining negotiations was finally decided. The MLBPA declined a deadline to agree to an international draft or have veteran free agents remain subject to a qualifying offer.
The MLBPA viewed an international draft as too important to trade in exchange for eliminating draft-pick compensation, particularly since the number of veterans affected in a given year is five or fewer. MLB’s final offer — increased from $181 to $191 million in guaranteed bonuses for a 20-round draft, plus $6 million more for undrafted free agents. The MLBPA considered that offer insufficient to upend a system in which corruption is rampant but the free market still reigns countered. They countered with $260MM which was rejected by MLB, and the system stays as was negotiated.
Both issues are significant obstacles for the MLBPA, but at some point I can see the MLBPA give in on the issue, thus eliminating loss of draft picks for those MLB players. It may only impact a few, but the players impacted are actually in the Union. Contrarily, there are a lot of IFA who have signed lucrative contracts and they are fighting to keep this issue from going to an actual draft, which would hamper (in their opinion) the signing bonuses.
How many 16 year olds are worth $5.6MM as was Ethan Salas (San Diego Padres Catcher) in 2023?
As long as LAD is able to compile enough IFA $$$ to sign Rōki Sasaki, that would top off a great 2024 IFA for the Dodgers.
I came across a MLB.com article that published a list of teams that are poised to increase their wins total by at least 10 games over 2023. The first six are:
- NYY – 82-80
- Cincinnati – 82-80
- KC – 56-106
- St. Louis – 71-91
- NYM – 75-87
- Philadelphia – 90-72
That does not seem out of line, especially for the first five teams. Those are almost no-brainers. Philly has a great chance to reach 100, but that is a little more difficult. They need for everything to go right. Their depth is not special. But with Wheeler, Nola, Suarez, Harper, Turner, Realmuto…they have a good shot at it.
2023 record: 100-62
Why they’ll be better: Here are three reasons, and we’re really digging deep for these. Reason No. 1: Shohei Ohtani. Reason No. 2: Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Reason No. 3: Tyler Glasnow.
The Dodgers win 100 games in their sleep, and now, they’re building a superteam. An improvement of 10 wins in 2024 would mean a 110-win season, which is a lot of wins, but when you add Ohtani, Yamamoto and Glasnow to a team that already has Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman … 110 wins doesn’t seem impossible at all. Remember, Los Angeles won 111 games in 2022, and that roster wasn’t as star-studded as this one. And we haven’t even gotten to the return of Walker Buehler, the always-under-the-radar star Will Smith, the throw-in signing of Teoscar Hernández and the rest of the 2024 Dodgers yet. We’re looking at one of the most loaded teams in recent memory.
Biggest obstacle: Sky-high expectations. It’s hard to win 100-plus games year after year, and now, the Dodgers somehow have to deal with even more pressure to win the World Series than they do in a “normal” season. If this team is anything less than historically great, it’s a disappointment, and these guys will have to live up to that wild amount of hype every day. If Ohtani or Yamamoto or Glasnow or even Betts or Freeman falter a little … or if any of the superstars get hurt … or if the Dodgers don’t erupt out of the gate, or they go through any surprise slumps … the weight of those expectations on this L.A. team will get even heavier, and fast. — David Adler, MLB.com
110 wins in 2024? That is certainly reachable, but the only win total I care about is 13 in the playoffs.