Record contract likely for Cuban prospect Lopez
Dodgers, D-backs, Padres and Yankees express strong interest in right-hander
Cuban right-handed pitching prospect Yoan Lopez could be in line for a record-setting deal. The 21-year-old starter is currently weighing offers, and according to an industry source, he appears in line to break the $8 million bonus record for an international amateur set by Angels infielder Roberto Baldoquin on Tuesday.
The Dodgers, D-backs, Padres and Yankees are among the teams to express strong interest in the pitcher, who was cleared by the United States government last week. Lopez is expected to sign quickly in order to join a team for the start of Spring Training.
Lopez throws a cut fastball, a changeup, a curveball and a slider, but he is best known for a fastball that hovers in the 93-95 mph range. In Cuba, he played three seasons for Isla de la Juventud in Serie Nacional, the island's top league. Lopez sported a 3.12 ERA with 28 strikeouts and 11 walks in 49 innings in his final season before defecting.
Because he is under 23 and did not play in a Cuban professional league for at least five seasons, Lopez is subject to the international signing guidelines. In accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team is allotted a $700,000 base and a bonus pool based on the team's record in 2013 for the international signing period, which started on July 2.
Where Lopez lands is to be determined. This is what we know:
The Yankees, Rays, Red Sox and Angels have spent more than 15 percent of their allotted bonus pools and are in the maximum penalty range for the 2014-15 signing period. The penalty includes a 100 percent tax on their pool overage and prohibits them from signing any pool-eligible player for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods.
The Dodgers, Padres and D-backs are not in the penalty.
Lopez established residency in Haiti and was declared a free agent by Major League Baseball late in 2014. He held a showcase for all teams in November, and he participated in private workouts in the weeks that followed. Lopez has been working out in the Dominican Republic.