Monday marked the closing of the 2019-20 MLB international signing period, the process through which players outside the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico enter affiliated baseball. Typically, the bonus pools reset and two-and-a-half weeks later, the next signing period begins on July 2. Nothing is typical in the midst of a pandemic, however. The league has announced that the signing period has been delayed until January 15, 2021 and will run through December 15 of that year.
International flight challenges are certainly a factor in this decision, but so is the frugality of baseball owners. These new signees—nearly all of them teenagers—wouldn’t be participating in the 2020 MLB season (assuming we get one). Teams are in no hurry to write them seven-figure bonus checks and official add them to the professional ranks until they need to.
Shortstops José Salas, Junior Sánchez and Ian Lewis headlined the 2019-20 international class for the Marlins. The year before that was centered around acquiring the Cuban Mesa brothers (Víctor Víctor and Víctor Jr.).
For 2021, the Fish will have a $6,431,000 bonus pool, according to Baseball America. That’s tied with the Brewers, Reds, Rays, Tigers and Twins for the largest pool in the league. Aside from the penalized Braves, every team can spend at least $5,348,100. Unfortunately, trading bonus pool space will not be allowed this time around. That ought to be disappointing news to president of baseball operations Michael Hill—over the past two calendar years, he has received extra int’l spending room in five separate trades (most recently as part of the J.T. Realmuto blockbuster).
Those restrictions mean that most of the Marlins’ pool will be tied up in a single prospect: Cuban shortstop Yiddi Cappe. The lean, 6-foot-3 right-handed batter is expected to get a $3.5 million signing bonus, per multiple reports.
As is often the case on the international market, Cappe reached a handshake agreement with Miami more than a year in advance. He has since been working out at the club’s academy in the Dominican Republic. Last week on his private Instagram account, the 17-year-old shared this graphic of his last name and the number nine on a Marlins uniform.