Baseball America is reporting that the Cubs have agreed to terms with RHP Jefferson Mejia (#20 in TheAncientMarinner's rankings) for $850K. Mejia was eligible to sign last year, but had problems with his paperwork. As such, he is older than most of the top prospects being signed in this period. If he gets his paperwork sorted out, he could start playing right away.
The Cubs have also agreed to terms with Venezuelan shortstop Gleyber Torres (BA #2, TAM #3), according to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez. Can someone help me with the pronunciation of his first name?
Assuming both of those signings are made official, don't count on the Cubs announcing any more signings before acquiring additional pool space. The Cubs have also been frequently connected to Eloy Jimenez (BA #1, TAM #1), but in combination with the other two players, his signing would take the Cubs above their allotted $4.5 million in total bonus pool. A Spanish language site is reporting his agreement with the Cubs (h/t Ryno) for $2.7 million. Unless the Cubs decide to simply ignore the bonus restrictions, they will likely wait on any official agreement until a trade for more space is completed. This is consistent with a report that Jimenez will not sign until later in the week.
Late last night word leaked that Steve Clevenger had packed his bags and been told to wait at his hotel room. Speculation was that he would be involved in a deal to acquire additional IFA slots, possibly with the Marlins. No additional word of that potential trade has yet leaked out today. In addition, nothing has been said on the Matt Garza front. I speculated yesterday that he could be involved in a deal to acquire more pool money, but it may well be that the Cubs can accomplish that without trading Garza, and will hold out for better prospects in a Garza trade. As a clarification to my post from the other day, MLB does not want teams to be able to buy slot space from other teams, but the Cubs could send cash in a Garza trade to offset his salary. This ability to offset salary represents a giant loophole in the effort to stop teams from buying slots.
Rangers Blowing Through Their Limits?
The Rangers may have decided to ignore their spending limits and face the consequences. The same site that has Eloy signing with the Cubs is indicating that the Rangers are comitted to $4.25 million for three players. The Rangers' original pool was just $1.94 million, meaning that if they acquired the maximum of extra space (150%) and went 5% over that total, they could spend only $3.05 million. Above that amount, they will face penalties in signing IFAs in 2014-2015.
• 15 percent or more over pool: 100 percent tax on the pool overage. Team won’t be allowed to sign a player for more than $250,000 during the 2014-15 signing period.
Note that their total pool in 2014-2015 would not be reduced, instead they would simply be limited in the amount that they could spend on any one player. This seems like a viable strategy if they feel that this year's class is especially strong in premium players. If they are taking this tack, it will be interesting to see how far they go with it. Would they be willing to challenge the Cubs for Jimenez? I'll take a wait-and-see approach.
Jefferson Mejia Scouting Reports
Mejia's age may be in question but his ability and size isn't. With his massive extra large frame he's an intimidating presence out to the mound. Fastball sits 91-93 with good downward plane. Can get both righties and lefties out with a nasty 74-75mph changeup that falls off the table. Also throws a solid curveball at 75-76. His mechanics are fairly sound for someone his size and he seems to have the athleticism to repeat his delivery. Was declared ineligible to sign for one year by MLB after lying about his age. He claimed to be 16 when he was apparently 17. He will be allowed to sign on April 4th.
Gleyber Torres Scouting Reports
Torres is a savvy player with present skills and the potential for five average or better tools. He has a clean, compact stroke, hits in games and shows good power projection, although he mostly works the gaps right now. He has good bat speed and hand-eye coordination to put the ball in play, although he can be a bit of a front-foot hitter and tends to pull off the ball at times.
Some scouts believe Torres is a true shortstop, while others think he’s not athletic enough. He could end up being a guy who splits time between shortstop, third base and second base, with a skill set that draws comparisons to Freddy Sanchez. He has good hands and a strong arm, but he doesn’t have the classic wiry shortstop frame and is already fairly filled out. Back in November, Torres showed above-average speed, but more recently he’s been running closer to average.
Considered the top Venezuelan prospect in the 2013 class, Torres is a product of the Ciro Barrios camp that also trained last year's top prospect Franklin Barreto (Blue Jays). While Torres does not have Barretto's level of international success and experience on his resume, some scouts consider him to be the better overall prospect, due to his power and greater likelihood of remaining at short. Torres is a polished player with a high floor, and though he doesn't offer much projection, what he is right now is already pretty good. A smooth defender with above average arm strength and innate natural instincts on the infield, Torres is exactly what you would want in a shortstop prospect. Offensively, he has a clean swing and shows patience and a good approach at the plate. Scouts see Torres as being the type of hitter who could hit for average while adding 15-20 homeruns a year. Torres only below-average tool is his lack of pure footspeed (7.02), but he has much better range than one would expect from a player with that kind of 60-time. The Cubs are said to be the team most aggressive on him, offering a bonus as high as 2mm.
Comparison: John Valentin