Yankees will spend international bonus pool money

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 15: The hat and glasses of Andruw Jones
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 15: The hat and glasses of Andruw Jones /

Now that the Yankees are officially out on Shohei Ohtani, they are free to pursue other highly anticipated international free agents. And there are a few…

Last week I wrote in detail about Kevin Maitan, the switch-hitting 17-year-old who was recently declared a free agent after the Atlanta Braves’ front office debacle. In the piece, I implored the Yankees to make him their Plan B to Shohei Ohtani.

Though the Yanks could have used their $3.5 million international bonus pool money on Ohtani, and next years’ funds in advance on someone like Maitan, there were little-to-no whispers about the club having spent any time scouting Maitan.

With Ohtani spurning the Yankees for smaller market teams like the Cubs, Dodgers and Giants, among others (he does know those three aren’t in small markets, right?), the Yanks now have until June 15 to use all of this year’s available funds or risk losing it.

General manager Brian Cashman flat out told the New York Post that won’t be an issue.

"“We have between now and June to use it and we will do so,” Cashman said."

Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com recently Tweeted that the Yankees are looking closely at Cuban outfielder Julio Pablo Martinez, who has a showcase scheduled for Dec 8 — in addition to former Braves prospect Yunior Severino.

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The 21-year-old Martinez is a center fielder by trade, widely considered one of the best prospects in all of Cuba before his defection. The left-handed Martinez is said to have a rare combination of speed and power. Once Martinez is officially declared a free agent, he is expected to immediately join the ranks of the top 30 international prospects.

For what it’s worth, Severino, 18, is similar to Maitan in the fact they are both switch-hitting middle infielders that swing from their heels.

During his pro debut this summer, Severino hit .270/.345/.420 (121 wRC+) with three home runs in 58 rookie ball games.

Of course, the Yankees will not be the only team chasing down these prized prospects, as a club like the Twins, that are also no longer in the hunt for Ohtani will look to spend $3.25 million in available funds.

Despite the four top prospects the Yankees sent packing at last season’s trade deadline, Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline still ranks the Yankees’ farm system at No. 8 among all MLB organizations.

“Their depth is still very impressive,’’ Callis said, “even after all the talent they’ve graduated to the big leagues or traded.”

Next: The final word on Ohtani

Adding a player like Martinez, who could begin the 2018 season as high as Double-A, will only raise the Yanks’ farm system profile to where it was prior to 2017.