On Saturday Major League Baseball’s 2022 international signing period will open up. What used to take place on July 2nd has been pushed to January 15th in the last two years. After sitting in the penalty box for several years after going over their pool allotment to sign Jose Barrero, Vladimir Gutierrez, and Alfredo Rodriguez (among others – though those were the big, high-dollar signings) in the 2016 class, the Reds came out of the box swinging and picked up several 7-figure signings over the last two years. On Saturday they may be landing their biggest signing in years.
Cincinnati is expected to sign shortstop Ricardo Cabrera, a shortstop out of Venezuela. Both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline rate him as the #3 player overall in this signing class. One scout I’ve spoken with believes he’s the top player in the class.
The 6′ 0″ and 175 lb. infielder won’t be 18-years-old until Halloween. He’s a right-handed hitter who has an above-average to plus hit tool to go with above-average power, speed, arm strength, and defense. When it comes to non-Cuban signings on the international market, Cabrera’s the highest rated player the organization has signed since these types of things have been tracked.
While Cabrera is the top player expected to sign with Cincinnati, the organization has several other guys that are ranked in the top 50 of the class. Baseball America ranks Antuan Valencia, another Venezuelan shortstop, in their top 50 and has him listed as expected to sign with the Reds. MLB Pipeline also has Esmith Pineda, a Panamanian outfielder, in their top 50 and expected to sign with the Reds.
Several years ago Major League Baseball changed the rules so that teams can no longer go over their pool allotment to sign players and face penalties. You can only spend what you have in your pool, and according to this article from MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez, this year teams can not trade with other teams to acquire more pool space. There are three different pool amounts. Eight teams get $6,262,600 this year. The Reds are in the next group and they get $5,721,500 of pool allotted spending. The final pool is $5,179,700. Nearly every team spends their full pool amount. Cincinnati has signed 15-25 players in recent years.
While the signing period begins on Saturday, not every deal will be rolling out that day. The signing period goes until December 15th. Players must be 16-years-old to sign, but they also must be at least 16-years-old by the end of August to sign (but can’t sign until their 16th birthday). As the signings roll out this next week, we’ll have updates and information on the players. Without big league free agency, this could be the big news around the baseball world for a while.