The Reds have signed Alfredo Rodriguez, a free agent from Cuba, according to a report by Jesse Sanchez of 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.

Go read Doug’s full post here. The magazine On Cuba ranked Rodriguez the 25th best prospect in Cuba in 2015:

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.

35 Responses

  1. Takao

    I have to imagine this means they liked what they saw out of Lazarito and are ramping up to sign him.

    • Doug Gray

      Problem is, the Reds have been the reported favorites to sign this dude for the last 5 months. In fact, they are the only team I’ve even seen mentioned on him.

  2. streamer88

    I do not think your source or you understand the bonus pool and the tax. It applies (due to actions imparted by the Reds recently, including today) to any signing in the period beginning AFTER July 2, 2016. My understanding is that they only paid $6 million for this guy. They also will only pay 1:1 for any player they sign UNTIL July 2, 2016. Only after that date will their 100% luxury tax on international spending begin.

    Can someone confirm this?

    • streamer88

      After further digging you are indeed correct (should’ve never doubted you) on the $12 million. I still suspect they make a run at Lazarito as they won’t be able to sign anyone after June 2016. Perhaps they’re thinking they’d rather sign these two guys (assuming they make a run at him) and use the large 2016 and 2017 pools they’re now forfeiting to do it. I dunno.

  3. Zakk Wylde

    Naw…guys…Billy Hamilton will come around offensively this year…I can’t even type that with a “straight” face.

    • Michael E

      You aren’t wrong. Hard to not improve when you’ve hit rock-bottom. He will “come around”, but that leave a lot of wiggle room for end results.

  4. seat101

    Remember, the CBA changes at the end of the season. And perhaps, the rules regarding international signings will change.

    • Doug Gray

      And perhaps they wont, but even if they do, it still means you miss out on every teenager of note in the 2016 class because they are all going to be signing before the new CBA comes out.

      • seat101

        Good point, Doug.

        Deducting this 12 million from the thirty million mentioned earlier leaves 9 million more (theoretically) to spend this year, right?

  5. jclark82

    I wonder if this is a Jocketty or Williams move. It seems like the Reds coveted Rodriguez like they did Peraza in a case of not just having tunnel vision for a certain type of player but for a certain player period. If so that’s troubling to no small degree.

    It’s fine to sign him if he can provide value and I think there’s some there, just not for what the Reds paid. This is a strange way to add organizational depth.

    The only way I see this making sense is if the Reds think the pitching is close enough to contend in 2017-18 and they need to pick up enough competent/useful players to see who plays well enough to stick in 2016 and who could be packaged as trade to make a go of it in the short term.

    This is either a product of impatience, tunnel vision or a combination of the two.

    • seat101

      Certainly not impatience, if this putative signing occurs. The Reds have been known to be looking at him for a while.

      Still no confirmation. So, perhaps this is the baseball equivalent of vaporware.

    • Michael E

      I don’t necessarily have a problem with the player. While $12 million isn’t chump change, it is a bargain if this young man becomes the starting SS for several years and is at least passable as a hitter/bunter (big if).

      I do hate to hear we just locked ourselves out of any chance at a true impact international signing for two years. We can’t offer more than a $300,000 bonus? Yeah, that’s going to get a great young player in the fold. Sucks.

      Had the signing not impacted next two years, I’d be fine with it, even with the dour batting outlook.

  6. Frogger

    It would be nice to know the decision maker on these trades. They aren’t accountable to the fans, but it would be interesting to see who makes what decisions. I can’t imagine a worse way to spend this money on a team to be honest. Well aside from signing Jason Marquis. Wonder if the same guy is responsible.

  7. Jeremy Conley

    It would be so fun to root for a team that routinely made moves that made sense, and perhaps even forward thinking. Instead, Reds fans have to continually bend their brains to come up with any possible way that the team’s most recent move isn’t one of the single worst baseball decisions ever.

    Over the last few days, as fans here on RLN have been posting ideas of how the Reds could get better, one of the more common suggestions has been to increase international scouting/signing. Now the Reds have prevented themselves from signing any top international talent for two years. It’s like they are going through all of the good ideas and making sure that they can’t happen.

    What’s next, moving Votto to the mound? Why not let Jumbo Diaz play third? If this Cuban SS who can’t get 5 doubles in a minor league season and never walks is worth forfeiting two years of development for the farm system, then I guess everything is on the table.

    • Yippee

      Last year’s off-season with the trading of Latos and Simon looks even more spectacular in comparison to this off-season so far….just plain awful. Over/under for wins in 2016 set at 62.5.

    • Michael E

      “It’s like they are going through all of the good ideas and making sure that they can’t happen.”

      Nail, head. They trade for less than impactful prospects, wasting valuable trade chips. Maybe those trades turn out okay, but they were both fairly well panned. The Chapman trade wasn’t bad really, given his stupid move in the off-season, but still a shell of what we thought he’d return.

      Now they lock themselves out of the best way to get cheap talent…internatoinal signings. Sure, they can sign lesser players, or if they scout deep into the rural areas of countries, they can maybe entice a poverty-stricken phenom with $300,000 before another team can realize the talent, but basically, they just cut off one of the better ways to add CHEAP and GOOD talent.

      Man, this off-season has bascially become worst-case scenario born out. I am so deflated. I was ready to welcome two or three top 3 prospects and see them sign another really good INTL FA or two over the coming seasons…impact types…and now none of it. NONE.

      I think you could find the biggest dufus that regularly visits RLN commenting (maybe its me) and they could NOT have done a worse job than the GM committee has done for our frazzled Reds franchise.

      This lame horse needs put down.

  8. David

    Signing this guy is another clue about the Reds’ use or non-use of any advanced analytics in looking at a player’s offensive skills and tendencies, even at the level of Cuban baseball. Numbers really don’t lie that often.

    SultanofSwaff may be right, in that actual scouting indicates talent obscured by analytics, but then again, the Reds will always say something like that.

    • Michael E

      You don’t need ANY analytics to figure out this kind of player…NONE. They’re rolling the diced base on projected growth. Your most basic stats, available for 100 years, way before computers and spreadsheets and such, say this guys is BAD at the plate.

    • Michael E

      Some scout, a trusted one, sees some kind of solid upside, probably compared him to another good SS of the past 10 years, to really get the Reds brass locked in… maybe that scout will be right, but what a high cost in money and loss of impact INTL FA signing ability for a couple of years.

  9. Michael E

    I don’t like hearing we’re limited when we have one of the best opportunities to go get even more cheap international talent. It sure doesn’t look like this is an impact player given all the Reds are giving up.

    You just know two or three really good players are going to be available next year and the Reds won’t even be able to make a play for them. Ugh. If you’re going to forfeit that, at least make it a big-time prospect with both bat and glove projecting to at least above average.

  10. Michael E

    Why do you want those types, they just clog up the bases.

  11. Michael E

    Sadly, I feel the same. I can’t see any silver lining. I hate hearing we won’t be able to compete to bid on any international player with a lick of talent the next two years. We can sign players, but not any that would demand a decent signing bonus (so deep in the jungle, desert or on a remote farm…forget any player that can be scouted without an off-road vehicle).

  12. Michael E

    I think we all are…this is the LAST thing we needed, another wimpy sounding MI. His glove will need to be Ozzie Smith level to be remotely worth everything they’ve given up just to sign him.

    We see Yasiel Puig type talents out there every year (never mind his brain farts), and we just handcuffed ourselves from even looking at those knowing we can’t offer a bonus to entice any remotely talented player to sign with the Reds for the next TWO YEARS, while we have a LARGE outlay allowed by MLB to do such signings. SAD, just SAD.

  13. Michael E

    I think the plan is to get as many low OBP guys as possible so when they trade for a .280 OBP hitter, the Reds can boast about how they just got a great OBP guy (which will be true in relative terms).

  14. Michael E

    I think you’re in the unanimous majority this time, so you don’t even have being a contrarian to keep you energized.

  15. Michael E

    Not much of a silver lining…even if you’re an optimist. The age thing is all we can cling to…well, that and he isn’t tiny, so some power should come in few seasons.

    That said, no power and no OBP is a bad mix. Like he was in over his head. At 18 that is fine. At 20 that starts to be a concern. Lots of time to get better, but losing the ability to sign good INTL FAs the next two years to lock up THIS kind of player? We should have authorities take Jocketty and Williams (and the scout involved) into custody for their own protection. They are a threat to their own well-being.

  16. Michael E

    Maybe that’s the plan, find worse hitters to give Billy confidence? Stopping him from flying out would be a better plan, or sending him to bat without a bat, but I guess this is a reasonable plan to improve Billy mentally?

  17. IndyRedMan

    I’m 48 years old and I can’t remember a decent leadoff hitter for the Reds in the last 20 years beside 1 year of Choo? Dexter Fowler is out there and instead we throw a bunch of money at a kid that won’t walk and prob can’t hit? Fowler would also be CF insurance in the highly likely scenario in which Hamilton never hits and they can’t afford his bat any longer because they’re 14-15th in NL scoring again. I give up on this team

  18. beroader

    Hopefully, they don’t end up committing so much money to Rodriguez if, in fact, they do sign him.

    I was thinking the Reds strategy might be to sign several expensive international prospects now so that

    a) they use their current payroll surplus on international signing bonuses
    b) the talent they acquire now will be ready for the big leagues in 2017-2018

  19. james garrett

    Wow.Maybe our front office isn’t as clueless as I think they are.The problem for me to begin with is that this just seems like the kind of thing they would do based on past history.I really hope Williams can get me beyond this way of thinking by doing some things that make sense and give all of us some hope for the future.

  20. walker809

    Any updates on this situation? Why do people think the Reds are suddenly backpedaling?