Not yet official, Baldoquin deal requires visa
ANAHEIM -- The Angels' $8 million agreement with Cuban middle infielder Roberto Baldoquin, terms of which were reported on Tuesday, is still hinging on a visa.
Once Baldoquin secures a visitor visa from the Dominican Republic, he can fly to the United States, take his physical, sign on the dotted line and officially join the Angels' organization. There's no telling when that will happen -- it could be early next week, it could be late in the offseason -- but it's expected to get done eventually.
Baldoquin, who turns 21 in May, would likely be invited to Major League Spring Training and could start the season in Double-A. The right-handed hitter is deemed by some evaluators to already be capable of handling shortstop at the Major League level, but still needs to prove he can produce consistently at the plate.
The addition of Baldoquin would represent the Angels' first major signing of a Cuban prospect since Kendrys Morales in 2005, and it ends up being about a $14 million commitment due to international spending rules.
The Angels began the international signing period -- on July 2 -- with a pool of $2,383,700, which has since gone down to roughly $2 million. Because they are expected to exceed the pool by 15 percent or more with the Baldoquin signing, they'll have to pay a 100-percent tax on the overage and won't be allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 over the next two signing periods.
The Angels don't see the latter as an issue, since they rarely make that type of commitment in the international market and will have the lowest spending pool next year. They're OK with paying a heavy tax, because it doesn't count toward the luxury tax and because they see Baldoquin as a polished player who could've secured a more lucrative, multi-year contract had he been a typical Cuban free agent.
Because he is under 23 and has not played in a Cuban professional league for at least five seasons, Baldoquin is instead subject to the international signing guidelines. That lowers his value and makes him the equivalent of an amateur Draft pick, which means the Angels can stash Baldoquin in the Minor Leagues and he can't be a free agent until he attains the typical six years of Major League service time.
Baldoquin is expected to be ready to take over at shortstop once Erick Aybar's contract expires after the 2016 season and could take over for second baseman Howie Kendrick once his contract expires after 2015. The Angels will continue to explore trading Kendrick this season, and Baldoquin's bat may also profile at third base.
The Angels will face tight restrictions over the next couple of international signing periods, but that doesn't mean they'll splurge for what's left of this one (remember, they still face a 100-percent tax on every dollar they spend this year). They'll keep tabs on another Cuban infielder, 19-year-old Yoan Moncada, but aren't expected to go after him hard.
Baldoquin played three seasons for Las Tunas in Cuba's Serie Nacional, the top league on the island, and was also part of the country's 16-and-under national team. He's been training in the Dominican Republic since February and has worked out at the Angels' academy on the island several times.