The Cubs have been very active for the last two days in the 2013 IFA market. They have clearly prioritized the acquisition of a number of top-level players and made moves to facilitate signing those players. I think it's likely that those moves are not done yet, despite the relative quiet on the rumor mill at this point.
|Gleyber Torres (ss)||2||2||$1,700,000|
|Erling Moreno (rhp)||16||48||$800,000|
|Jefferson Mejia (rhp)||NR*||22||$850,000|
|Johan Matos (c)||NR||NR||$270,000|
|Eloy Jimenez (of)||1||1||$2,800,000?|
*Baseball America didn't include any prospect in their top 30 who had previously been eligible to sign.
The two names that have bee added to this group today are Eloy Jimenez, who I'll get to in a minute, and Johan Matos, a catcher from the Dominican Republic. Matos's signing was first reported by Kiley McDaniel yesterday; bonus details came this afternoon from MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez. Matos isn't ranked in any of the lists that I have been consulting, so no scouting report unless one of our readers is really into amateur baseball in the DR. I wouldn't read much into the fact that he's unranked. It's a big world out there, you guys. His $270k bonus is an indication that he probably falls into the 50-100 range.
The Cubs started with $4.56 million in their pool budget and added some $960 thousand by virtue of trades yesterday. Given that they can spend up 105% of their budget without being restricted in their signings next season, that leaves them with $2.18 million to spend. Note that teams are allowed to take on 6 players at $50,000 or less without that money counting against their bonus pool, and no player at $10,000 or less counts against the pool.
Waiting for Eloy
All of that brings us to Eloy Jimenez, the consensus best prospect in this class*. Leading up to July 2nd, the Cubs were rumored to be the heavy favorite to sign the big outfielder, and that doesn't seem to have changed over the last two days. Last night Jesse Sanchez reported on twitter that Jimenez had decided to sign with the Cubs, having turned down more money from another team. The fact that he hasn't yet officially signed is potentially significant. Leading up to the signing period, rumors had Jimenez signing for no less than $2.4 million, and potentially over $3 million. Yesterday morning, a report from Mundi Deportes had Jimenez agreeing to $2.7 million with the Cubs. I give that report more credence than it deserves, perhaps, because lots of deals are unofficially made before the signing period actually begins. Outlets with direct connections to the players or their representation are more likely to report those deals than outlets's whose sources are within the clubs themselves, because the clubs have to worry about available pool space. You see, no team can exceed it's available pool space prior to acquiring more of it in trade. Thus, the Cubs have an explicit interest in keeping all deals under wraps until they have the money to do so.
This is a long way of saying that I'm not convinced Jimenez signs for the $2.18 million that the Cubs have left in their bonus pool. It's certainly a possibility that he does, given the report from Sanchez that he had a better offer, but I will believe it when I see it. The Rangers were a team rumored to have been in on Jimenez, and given that they have blown through their limits without regard for the penalties, it seems likely to me that they could have offered a lot more than $2.18 million.
If $2.18 million is not enough, one of two things is true, either 1) the Cubs are on the verge of making another move to acquire space or 2) the Cubs will spend above their limits. The second option is not going to happen, frankly. While the penalties for exceeding the pool are not that significant, in the grand scheme of things, if the Cubs were willing to go that route, then they put a lot of resources into acquiring more space through trade yesterday for very little gain. Either he takes the $2.18 or there is another trade coming.
*Kiley McDaniel actually had Gleyber as his top prospect
Will the Cubs Sign Anyone Else?
Seems unlikely at this point. The only other high profile prospect I heard them connected to was Tawianese pitcher Jen-Ho Tseng (BA #23), and that seemed to be more speculation than anything else. I wouldn't completely rule it out, however, given the resources they are clearly willing to commit to the market this season. If anyone is aware of a site that is keeping track of what clubs have left to spend, I would be interested. The Cubs could potentially acquire another $1.3 million or so in funds if they found a club with that amount of money available, and an interest in a Cubs player.
Jesse Sanchez is now reporting that Eloy signed for $2.8 million. I'm sticking with my theory that this is probably unofficial for the moment. If it's not, the Cubs just went way over their limits, and, well… that's very interesting.
8:30 PM: More Eloy Updates
Someone in the front office has made it clear that this leak is not OK, and the backtracking has begun in earnest. This is as expected. We can only hope that there are enough teams looking to unload pool slots that it doesn't cost the rest of the farm system to acquire them.
— Dionisio Soldevila (@dSoldevila) July 4, 2013
"Eloy hasn't signed with anyone yet", says Amaury Nina, Jimenez' agent
— Dionisio Soldevila (@dSoldevila) July 4, 2013
To clarify, I don't think this changes a thing with regards to Eloy to the Cubs. He will sign. He just can't do it until the Cubs make space. Make sure to tune in to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Heyman this holiday weekend, because more moves are one the way.