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Report: Cuban Pitcher Luis Morales Expected to Get Record Contract Bonus in MLB FA

Erin WalshAugust 26, 2022

Ron Vesely

Luis Morales, a 19-year-old from Cuba, is expected to command a record-breaking contract for a pitcher from the international bonus pool after being declared a free agent by Major League Baseball on Thursday, per ESPN's Kiley McDaniel.

Morales will be eligible to sign with an MLB club on Sept. 7, and the Oakland Athletics are considered "heavy favorites" to land him, McDaniel added.

While Morales is eligible to sign next month, McDaniel noted he is expected to wait to sign when the next period begins on Jan. 15 because most of the pool money in the current international signing period has been spent.

Morales' deal is expected to be bigger than the $2.61 million Cuban pitcher Sandy Gaston received from the Tampa Bay Rays in 2018. Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani received $2.315 million in 2017.

MLB teams are allowed between $4.5 million and just over $6 million in international pool money, per McDaniel. Teenage pitchers typically receive less money than position players because they are viewed as bigger risks.

Major league teams traveled to watch Morales pitch in Mexico City earlier this year. He has a fastball that can reach up to 99 mph to go along with a changeup and breaking ball that "projects to be above average," according to McDaniel.

Attempting to sign Morales would be a no-brainer for the A's, who are in a massive rebuild after selling off star players in Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, Frankie Montas, Chris Bassitt and Sean Manaea this year.

Currently, the team's top pitching prospect is left-hander Ken Waldichuk, who is ranked as their No. 3 prospect overall, per MLB.com. He is currently playing for the Las Vegas Aviators in Triple A.

Gunnar Hoglund, J.T. Ginn, Luis Medina and Ryan Cusick are also among the team's top pitching prospects. Eduardo Rivera is the only 19-year-old pitcher currently ranked in the team's top 30 prospects.

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