Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Yankees' Insane International Free Agent Haul

Masahiro Tanaka

In early 2014 the Yankees made headlines for bringing in Masahiro Tanaka. However, Tanaka wasn't the only international free agent the Yankees brought in in 2014.

In early July the Yankees went HAM on the international prospect market and scooped up nine of the top 25 international prospects in the first day alone (they added their tenth recently). They later went on to sign a bunch of other guys too (several of which haven't even been reported yet). Here's a rough list of some of the players who have signed with the Yankees. I've typed the more highly touted players in bold.

Dermis Garcia
Nelson Gomez
Juan De Leon
Jonathan Amundaray
Wilkerman Garcia
Hyo-Jun Park
Antonio Arias
Diego Castillo
Frederick Cuevas
Servando Hernandez
Leobaldo Cabrera
Jason Lopez
Lisandro Blanco
Wander Hernandez
Raymundo Moreno
Alexander Vargas
Adolfo Morillo
Pablo Olivares
Bismar Nunez
Luis Pache
Danienger Perez
Gilmael Troya
Griffin Garabito
Yossty Vargas
Jose Polonia
Erick Mendez
Bryan Emery

Now obviously this move did come with it's fair share of repercussions. The Yankees only had a signing pool of roughly $2.2 million and will face extremely heavy penalties for whatever they spent over that amount. According to RAB they'll have to pay at least $12.31 million in taxes. And they will not be allowed to sign an international free agent to a signing bonus worth more than $300,000 from 2015 to 2017.

Despite that this was a bold and (IMO) very good move for the Yankees. Like any prospect these international free agents are gambles, but as the past few years have shown the Yankees are putting an increased emphasis on player development. Plus it's not like the Yankees are going to be able to get another top 10 first rounder in the draft any time soon so they might as well flex their financial muscle to scoop up top tier foreign talent. And yes, I'm painfully aware that the Yankees have had a pretty bad track record of developing players in recent years but they are improving. They've added layer after layer of depth in just these past two years and also took another minor league affiliate, the Pulaski Yankees, under their umbrella giving them a total of 10 minor league teams to work with for the foreseeable future.

And as many have noted this also showed how flawed the current system is. The Yankees spent a little under $30 million (and that's just what we know of) and nearly half of that went to penalties and taxes. The deep-pocketed Yankees can afford to do that, but small market teams like the Brewers couldn't possibly afford to pay those taxes. Hell, those teams can barely afford the players in the first place. Of course everybody has noticed these flaws and among the potential solutions there are currently plans for an international draft even though nearly every player (in the bigs) opposes it as the draft would likely take advantage of international draftees (like the MLB draft takes advantage of domestic draftees) with weird policies and whatnot. Whatever the MLB chooses to do, we can expect that their solution to this problem will undoubtedly just create more problems in the future (their track record for unexpected repercussions is impeccable).

In all the Yankees minor league system took huge steps forward in 2014. From top prospects improving their game, some previously unknowns having breakout years, to all of these new international additions, and to top it all off the new minor league club. Your average Yankee fan probably won't care, but these developments are huge and if lucky, the Yankees could benefit from them between 2017 to 2020 when the players have finally risen through the ranks and can make an impact on the big league club. Oh yes, that next dynasty is going to be here soon-ish.
Keep in mind though, there is still a month or so left here in 2014, there is still plenty of time for the Yankees to add one or two more names to their long list of foreign acquisitions (Yoan Moncada!).

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).



  1. When Bob Nutting took over the Pirates put a huge emphasis on the international market. Already paying dividends with Marte and Polanco.

    Great post!

    1. Thanks. Hopefully a lot of these guys go on to have just as big an impact as Marte and Polanco did.