The Yankees are making good on their word and foresight in recent trades by plunging into the International Market for up and coming players.
The Yankees have announced the signing of 16-year-old shortstop Ronny Rojas to a $1 million contract. And not so quietly, the team is upping the ante when it comes to corralling talent on the International Market, something until recently, the Yankees have avoided.
A month ago, I wrote a column intended to point out a change in the team’s thinking and trade strategy. Citing two trades made by the Yankees this summer, the story featured this news:
We see a trade, which in the sweepstakes of the last week went mostly unnoticed, in which the Yankees traded Double-A right-hander Yefry Ramirez to the Orioles, not for another player, but instead in exchange for international bonus pool money.
And then in the deal to acquire Sonny Gray, we see this little blurb in the fine print as reported by MLB.com: “In addition to Gray, the Yankees will receive $1.5MM in international bonus pool money.”
The strategy the Yankees embarked on is to add to their allotted monies MLB gives them to spend and since then they all in on signing these players.
By going in the back door, the organization can avert the restrictions applied my MLB and still be within the confines of the rules which state (provided by Baseball America):
Most teams have a bonus pool of $4.75 million, while some clubs classified as small market or small revenue teams get either $5.25 million or $5.75 million. Teams are allowed to trade their pool space once the signing period opens on July 2. Clubs can trade for up to 75 percent of their original pool allotment and are allowed to trade away their entire pool.
No one, these days, needs to belong to Mensa to figure out that a good portion of the best players in the game today are of foreign descent, with players from countries in South America and the islands dominating the source of talent for most teams.
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According to NBC Sports, “The 16-year-old infielder is the fourth international prospect to join the Yankees during the current 2017-2018 signing period. The club also signed shortstop Roberto Chirinos and outfielders Everson Pereira and Anthony Garcia earlier this season, and are expected to remain in the mix for Japanese pitcher/slugger Shohei Otani as well.”
Rojas is currently rated as the 11th best player for international prospects in 2017.
The Yankees will invest time and money to develop Rojas and others as they progress through the team’s farm system. They represent raw and very young talent which needs to be refined gradually.
The players also face the challenge of immersing themselves in a foreign culture (ours), learning a new language, and being, as in the case of Rojas, a 16-year old away from home for the first time without getting a case of debilitating homesickness.
The Yankees have not yet announced where and when Rojas will begin to play in the minors.
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