Reds GM: No deal yet with shortstop Rodriguez

January 11th, 2016
Alfredo Rodriguez was the 2014-15 Serie Nacional Rookie of the Year in Cuba (JDD Baseball).

Several reports earlier this week indicated that the Reds had agreed to a $6 million deal with 21-year-old Cuban shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez, but no deal has been completed, according to Reds general manager Dick Williams.

"It's a player that just got cleared by MLB," Williams said. "Now teams can begin to negotiate with him. We've seen him. Other teams have seen him. We have interest in him. No deal is done."

Rodriguez was declared a free agent by Major League Baseball on Monday, but contrary to earlier reports, no deal has been completed or is just pending a physical.

"It's not that far along," Williams said.

Several hurdles appeared to remain before Rodriguez could be officially signed by Cincinnati.

The 2014-15 Serie Nacional Rookie of the Year in Cuba, the 5-foot-10, 195-pound Rodriguez is a glove-first prospect with good speed (6.6 seconds in the 60-yard dash) and excellent range. He's been described as a high-energy player who is making progress at the plate. Rodriguez is expected to be an everyday player when he gets called up to the big leagues, likely after some time in the Minor Leagues.

Because of his age and experience, Rodriguez is subject to the international signing guidelines, and his signing would thrust the Reds into the maximum penalty: a 100 percent tax on the overage and the inability to sign a prospect for more than $300,000 during the international signing period that starts on July 2, 2016. It's a significant commitment, especially when you consider that Cincinnati is on track to have the second-largest bonus pool to spend on international prospects in 2016 because of the team's record in '15.

The Reds' overall pool total for this year's signing period was $2,873,000, and the club narrowly stayed below that amount while signing 20 international prospects before committing to Rodriguez. Now, they'll have to pay Rodriguez's $6 million bonus and an additional $6 million in penalty.

How Rodriguez fits into the club's plans is to be determined.

Zack Cozart, 30, who had his season cut short when he tore the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in his right knee last June, is listed as the club's starting shortstop. He is expected to arrive in Goodyear, Ariz., for Spring Training completely healthy. There's also Eugenio Suarez, who replaced Cozart at shortstop for 97 games after the injury. Suarez could shift to third base now that Todd Frazier has been traded to the White Sox. Jose Peraza, acquired from the Dodgers in the deal for Frazier, can also play second base and shortstop.

Cozart is also two years away from becoming a free agent.

What's certain is that the Reds have been successful with top Cuban talent in recent years, as evidenced by their signings of Aroldis Chapman (six years, $30.5 million in 2010) and pitcher Raisel Iglesias (seven years, $27 million in '14).