The international signing period for Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States that begins on Saturday is a time of celebration and joy for hundreds of Latin American teenagers and their families.
“Jubilo, almost national. A great and long party for all those boys who will officially begin the road to try to make their dream of reaching the Major Leagues come true,” said former Dominican scout Félix Francisco.
Hundreds of 16-year-old amateur boys, mostly from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, and to a lesser extent from other parts of the world, are eligible to sign their first professional contracts with the 30 MLB organizations between January 15 and 15. from December.
The cream of this year’s promotion is led by Cuban outfielders Cristian Vaquero, Oscar Colás and Lázaro Montes, Dominican shortstop Roderick Rodríguez, Venezuelan shortstops Ricardo Cabrera and William Bergolla and Dominican-Venezuelan outfielder Anthony Gutierrez, among many others.
According to industry sources, Vaquero has a $5 million pre-agreement with the Washington Nationals, Colás a $2.7 million pre-agreement with the Chicago White Sox and Montes a $2.5 million pre-agreement with the Seattle Mariners.
In addition, Rodríguez agreed some time ago to sign from Saturday onwards for $3.5 million with the New York Yankees, Cabrera would have a $2.7 million deal with the Cincinnati Reds, Bergolla a $2 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies and Gutierrez another $2 million deal with the Texas Rangers.
For more than three decades, the signing period for new players began on July 2 and ended on June 30 of the following year, but as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the MLB commissioner’s office and the MLB Players Association Major League Baseball (MLBPA) agreed, in June 2020, to modify the deadlines for 2021 and 2022.
With the end of the 2017-2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), the possibility grows that the new pact will include an international draft as a substitute for the current free agency model in the international prospect market.
In the offer that MLB made to the MLBPA on Thursday, in the restart of negotiations to try to agree on the new CBA, the owners proposed a compensation system for teams that place on their opening day rosters a prospect in the top 100 list, rather than the old practice of moving him up late in the season to take a year off his service.
If that player wins Rookie of the Year or finishes in the top three in Most Valuable Player or Cy Young voting, he would earn his team selections in the domestic and international drafts, an industry source told ESPN.
For years, the baseball government has seen the establishment of an international draw as the best solution to try to stop the frequent tricks of the main actors (teams, coaches and players) in the process of recruiting foreign prospects, especially the pre-agreements, reached at times up to three years before the player is eligible.
“There is no perfect solution to problems when it doesn’t include a strict regimen of consequences,” said Francisco, who, like many other industry insiders, is less convinced that the draft solves all the ills of the system. “But it is clear that with a draw, the pre-agreements would end,” he added.
And Francisco knows the business from both sides of the table. For nearly three decades, he was a scout for four major league organizations (Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres, Houston Astros and Kansas City Royals), but three years ago he founded his own company, which is dedicated to developing and representing players for signing. first contracts, including a dozen that would go professional from Saturday onwards.