The international prospect market opens on July 2, and the New York Yankees are gearing up to spend a whole lot of money.
After spending over $300 million this past offseason on players like Masahiro Tanaka, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury, general manager Brian Cashman is now looking to boost his farm system with international talent.
A source with direct knowledge of the Yankees plans says they aim to spend $12-15 million in bonuses on international amateurs this year, which would trigger penalties of about $10-12 million per to the 2-year old rules in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that limit international spending.
The total outlay of about $25 million would blow away a record the Texas Rangers set in 2011 of about $15 million, of all penalty-free bonuses.
McDaniel also reports that the Yankees have multiple verbal deals on the table at this point in time. I'll break down three of those players below.
The international signing period can be confusing at times given how unfamiliar fans are with the talent being signed. Read on to learn about the next crop of international talent.
Dermis Garcia, SS, Dominican Republic
Dominican shortstop Dermis Garcia is priority No. 1 for the Yankees. He'll command a nice bonus—perhaps north of $3 million—and the Yankees will look to get him into the system quickly.
Garcia still has a ton of growing to do, so apparently there's a chance he has to leave the shortstop position:
Dermis Garcia might grow out of the SS position but he is athletic enough to stay at the spot. Smooth swing, raw power, immense potential.— Yankeesource (@YankeeSource) February 9, 2014
Regardless, Garcia's bat is what's going to make him money. While not a poor defender, Garcia relies mostly on athleticism in the field. At the plate, he uses a smooth swing to generate a ton of raw power—arguably the most in this international class.
He has power to all fields because of his approach at the plate. He uses quick hands to get to the ball inside, and he has shown great plate coverage to get to the ball on the outer half.
Strikeouts could become a problem with Garcia because of his all-or-nothing approach, but a little coaching in the United States should help him out tremendously.
Considered by many to be the top international free agent, Garcia alone will help boost the reputation of the Yankees' system.
Nelson Gomez, 3B, Dominican Republic
The Yankees are clearly going after power this July, as Nelson Gomez is another player with a verbal agreement, per the above report from McDaniel.
Gomez has great power. His power in batting practice is jaw-dropping, and it translates pretty well over to games. Of course, live pitching in the states might give him some problems at first. That said, power is something that never gets lost in moving to a different league. Just ask Jose Abreu or Yoenis Cespedes.
If he stays in shape, Gomez can also be a weapon in the field. He has a great arm at the hot corner, but he'll need to keep in shape to allow him to get to balls down the line and to his left. Should that not pan out, a future as a corner outfielder is likely.
Given the uncertainty of the future at third base for the Yankees, signing Gomez is smart. Alex Rodriguez might never play like his old self again, and Yangervis Solarte could very well be a one-hit wonder. He has been great in 2014, but who knows how he'll be in 2015 and beyond?
Juan De Leon, OF, Dominican Republic
Juan De Leon doesn't have the power of either Garcia or Gomez, but he might be the best overall hitter available. The outfielder uses a quick, efficient swing to hit during any count and against any pitch.
This swing makes it reasonable to believe that he'll develop some more power with time, so I would say that he's a safe bet for 15 to 20 home runs per season in the bigs. For someone who is a candidate to hit .290-plus, that's just an added bonus.
He's a very good athlete. Some say that he has the potential to develop all five tools, and that would make him a steal if the Yankees can grab him for about a $2 million bonus. Five-tool players are hard to come by in the international market, but De Leon might be one.
Aside from his skills at the plate, he is a good runner who uses his athleticism to play a great defensive outfield. He has a good arm and is overall an exciting player to watch.
While the Yankees have a logjam in the outfield for the next several seasons, De Leon could crack this roster in a few years when Beltran's contract runs out.