The Reds have signed Alfredo Rodriguez, a free agent from Cuba, according to a report by Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. The Reds have not confirmed the deal. Rodriguez is 21 years old and a talented defensive shortstop.
The reported contract is for $6 million, which puts the Reds well over the limit for international signings and subject to financial penalties and preclusions from future signings. Sanchez explains:
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 the Reds are on track to have the second largest bonus pool to spend on international prospects in 2016 because of the team’s record in 2015.
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. (Sanchez)
As 20-year-old, Rodriguez hit .265/.301/.284. That’s right. His slugging percentage was lower than his on-base percentage. Rodriguez had four – four – extra-base hits in more than 300 plate appearances.
Combine that lack of power with a terrible walk-rate (3.6 percent) and you’ve got a one-dimensional player — defense.
Doug Gray breaks down the scouting report on Rodriguez. But here’s his conclusion about the signing:
The only way that this makes sense, is if the Reds continue to go out and spend tons of money on more international players. They need to load up and make it count given that they will not be allowed to sign anyone else for the next two years for over $250,000. There are still some big names out there, and they won’t be cheap (though perhaps the 16-year-olds still out there could be slightly cheaper than Rodriguez). If this is the only move the Reds make on the market, it’s about as confusing as it can possibly be. If this is just the first step to spending a whole lot of money on international players and boosting the farm system with sheer monetary force, then this is a lot more understandable. But, it still seems like a massive overpay for this particular player.
Alfredo Rodriguez was born in Havana. He has limited power and seems to be a hitter with an average no higher than .270.
Needless to say, if the report and Rodriguez’s statistics are accurate, this is a head-scratcher of a signing. It would be one thing to sign a defense-oriented shortstop to provide organizational depth, but at $12 million it’s an awfully large opportunity cost. Forfeiting the chance to sign additional international players the next two years is a big loss.