Since the July 2nd international signing period began, the Pittsburgh Pirates have signed a total of 28 players. Our international signing tracker has been posted, where you will find each player listed, along with their age on signing day, position, country and whether they bat or throw left-handed or right-handed. Where available, the chart also includes the players height, weight and signing bonus.

You will notice that we have the Pirates spending about 40% of their $5.75 M bonus pool so far. That’s because we only have the bonus totals for nine players. The other 19 players includes a large group of players who are 16 or 17 years old, so they likely got a bonus of $50,000 or more (and more could be into six figures), we just didn’t get any information on them.

The Pirates were excited about the players they signed out of Venezuela, but bonuses from that country weren’t listed for almost every player due to the ongoing turmoil in that country. That was an agreement around the industry to protect the players. You’ll notice that Venezuelan outfielder Angel Basabe has a bonus amount listed, but he currently lives and trains in Panama, so he isn’t in the same situation. Basically, the remaining bonus pool for the Pirates is much lower than the amount you see listed.

The Pirates signed a 29th player, a young, lanky right-handed pitcher from the Dominican named Jonathan Quezada. He signed on July 3rd, then shortly after, a pre-existing arm injury was discovered and his contract was voided.

The group of 28 players includes five left-handed pitchers, compared to just one signed last year. They also signed eight right-handed pitchers, seven outfielders, three catchers, two shortstops, two middle infielders and one first baseman.

The signing period runs until June 15, 2018, so this might not end up being the final list. The Pirates signed four players after October 29th during the last signing period.

The Pirates signed three players out of Colombia for the second straight year. Before last year, the previous player signed out of Colombia was Luis Escobar in 2013. They did sign a catcher named Roberto Noguera in 2014, but a vision disorder voided his contract. The Pirates also broke a four-year drought in Mexico by signing three players out of the country, including Christian Navarro, who participated in the Fall Instructional League in Bradenton last month, which is a very rare jump for an international player. They also signed players from Panama, Nicaragua and Curacao, with the latter being the younger brother of DSL star Sherten Apostel.

We previously announced 23 of these players, breaking the news on 14 of them here, while the others were announced by Jesse Sanchez from MLB.com on July 2nd. All of the bonuses you see listed were his handiwork.

That leaves five names you’ll see for the first time here. They are catcher Juan Mena and pitcher Daniel Rivero, who are the two players from Venezuela noted above as the players the Pirates were excited about signing. Also new is infielder Carlos Arroyo from Colombia, who needed to wait until his 16th birthday on July 11th before he could sign. He was drafted third overall in the Colombian winter league draft, so that’s a good sign and means that he could possibly be part of our winter leagues coverage. The other two new players are 17-year-old pitchers Arlinthon De Dios and Yoelvis Reyes from the Dominican.

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44 COMMENTS

  1. Glad my post got some reaction, however when talking about bonus money, they gave Bell $5,000,000 to sign and I do not recall anyone saying that was a bad thing to do. What is the difference besides two years of age in an international signing at 16 and Bell at 18? That signing not only got allot of press it resulted in MLB changing the draft rules by creating bonus pool slotting.

  2. So since Piates remodeled the Domican Academy how many players have reached the Major Leagues? Who are top 20 International players now in the system?

    • The Pirates upgraded the Dominican academy prior to the 2009 season. The players who have been there from 2009 until now and made the majors are Gregory Polanco, Joely Rodriguez, Alen Hanson, Willy Garcia, Luis Santos and Edgar Santana. That list doesn’t include players from the Venezuelan academy during that time, Ramon Cabrera, Yhonathan Barrios, Dilson Herrera, Elias Diaz and Jose Osuna. Most of the guys signed since 2012 would still be coming up the system at this point.

      Top 20 international players will be part of our 2018 prospect guide, but you can check the season reviews for every affiliate, including the 2017 DSL team and see which ones are in the top 10 at each level.

      • With all due respect John, that is a pretty weak list of players to have developed over a 8-9 year period – Polanco is the only MLB regular on the list – and he’s a mediocre one at best. Despite the Pirates totally mismanaging him and wasting valuable years of his career, I still have hope for Diaz. The rest are all question marks or former prospects. Now, compare that list to the Astros, Brewers, Reds, Cardinals, Nationals, and most other clubs, over the same period of time….

        • Because as a franchise with perpetual payroll issues, having spent 50 million or whatever the number was on Rusney Castillo would absolutely cripple the entire franchise for a decade and not just it’s International signings system.

          • That’s a distraction from the actual conversation at hand.

            Nobody is arguing that the Pirates should’ve been targeting top Cubans like Castillo or even Jose Abreu (who would’ve still been a fantastic value, mind you).

            • What “real” argument are you talking about? I simply stated a counterpoint in favor of risk aversion in acquiring international talent in the midst of a conversation about the means and overall effectiveness of strategy in acquiring international talent.

              • This “counterpoint” is like asserting that the Pirates will never be able to spend as much as the Yankees, therefor shouldn’t worry about spending *any* more on payroll.

                • Ok that makes more sense to me and I see your point. The biggest issue to me though would be that if the Pirates go after higher profile and large bonus types of international free agents then that’s money that’s being invested in teenagers who may never amount to anything, which is why I cited Castillo. I suppose if anything I feel that if the Pirates were to invest more money in acquiring talent that it should be at the MLB level and not on 16-18 year old kids. It would be pretty odd to spend even 8-10 million on a teenager in July then have to spend the following winter deciding which 8-10 million dollar contract you need to trade away to stay within the ownership’s budget.

                  • Ah, gotcha.

                    Not that you come to me for such approvals, but that argument to me is perfectly acceptable. I don’t happen to agree with it, but someone who feels money should be spent on Major League players rightfully would not believe spending on Latin American kids is a good use of those funds.

                    FWIW, Rusney signed as a 27 yo and still bombed!

        • Amateur player acqusition is such a crap shoot. There’s hits and misses all over the board. In this case, you’re talling about 16 year old kids that are so far away and there are so many factors. I’d really be interested in seeing how many successful large money kids make it versus the bargain guys. I’m sure there’s a difference. But some of these guys these teams sign don’t get anywhere. These kids gets get a chunk of money for the first time in their life and spend years away from the only environment they’ve ever known. There are some things you just can’t place on a scouting report.

      • Its a high risk in all scenarios, but I would like the odds better among the top 100-150 prospects vs. the remaining. How many NFL first round picks make it vs. the 6th or 7th round? I think its a very valid analogy.

  3. What purpose does keeping this information secret from the fans serve the Pirate organization? If I was in charge I would be publicizing these signings to draw attention to the club. The only reason I think the Bucs hide this information is because they refuse to sign anyone to a large bonus or go after the alleged more talented players that are available. Please don’t tell me $500,000 is a large bonus, because it isn’t in comparison to what other teams pay to sign these international free agents.

    • International signings are announced by media 99% of the time. Pirates are no different from the other 29 teams.

    • When it comes to international signings, the Pirates aren’t the type of team to plunk it all down on the roulette table and try to break the house. Instead, the club’s style is more like buying a fistful of scratch-offs and hoping they’ll win enough to buy gas for the drive home.

        • Yes…not just trying to be the grumpy contrarian, but…unless I’m missing some names, outside of some bench pieces, bullpen arms, and Polanco…I really can’t think of anything this strategy has produced.

          • When an underachieving OF’er is the best you’ve gotten….

            And, are there any above average ones coming up? I can’t think of any.

            For all the pub put into our Academy, we sure haven’t done well in the Int’l market.

            • On the 40-man, I’ve got:

              Polanco, Osuna, Diaz, Santana, Dovydas, and Ngoepe (he may have been outrighted, I don’t recall).

              As for the foreign signings of the high minors, everybody is gooey for Espinal these days, but he plays first…I don’t see him supplanting Bell. Then there’s Tomas Morales,Jin-De Jhang, Pablo Reyes, Elvis Escobar, Yeudy Garcia, Dario Agrazal, (the winner of the “Hey, He’s Still Around Award?”) Luis Heredia, and Miguel Rosario.

              As best as I can figure, that’s the output from Altoona to Pittsburgh after almost a decade of revamping the process. I’m sure a few of those guys will get some time in the majors, but I really can’t envision them being much more than bench players or bullpen arms.

            • I don’t think Marte…he played 45 games in the Pirates system in 2009, Huntington took over at the end of September 2009…so I made the assumption that he was a Littlefield acquisition.

        • Most fans don’t care until they reach higher levels, so they don’t take the time to do it. Plus everyone they sign won’t play a pro game until the following late May, so nearly 11 months with nothing on these players is a long time. The Pirates announced it in the past, I believe it was 2008 the last time, and you can only answer the question “who?” so many times.

          We track the players throughout their entire career, so that’s why I put in all of that work to get the names and as much information as possible. I’d be surprised if you could find something better anywhere else for a particular team. I want to know who I am tracking and have an easy reference for everyone to see, so that’s why you get the chart and the time spent putting it together.

    • Why do fans need to know this information? That is a serious question, why should we care? Does it affect us one way or the other, IMO, no, it doesn’t. Outside of being completely absent from the large bonus international players, who cares what any team spends on the lottery tickets.

      • I would think you would want to see that your team is actually spending their bonus pool and doing the scouting work to get better. There are other teams that have largely ignored the international side. Knowing that your team year-by-year is making the most of a bad system that up until 2017 was punishing small market teams for doing well in the majors, should be something you want to know.

        As an example, the Orioles have signed three international players for next year since July 2nd. Not one of them received a sizable bonus according to any source. The Reds have signed 17 players and the highest reported bonus was $100,000. As a Pirates fan, knowing it could be extremely worse, has to be somewhat comforting.

        • But, in real life, no one at the company I work for knows how much I make, outside of my superiors and HR. The company is not required to tell anyone, and neither am I. I just don’t see how it is anyone’s business except for the team and the player.

          • That can be applied to every pro player in every sport, but their salaries/winnings are out there. You can find out what movie stars make and salaries for just about anyone who works for the public. I thought you were being more specific to the Pirates, not just a general random thought.

            • Honestly, I have no idea how much any player makes in any sport. The only time I pay attention to it is when someone gets discussed in trade rumors. Even then I only look at their salary to attempt to come up with an excess value comparison. At which point, I promptly forget the entire thing.

              I am not completely blind to the payroll matter though. I understand that there are limitations on payroll, and it is not just because Nutting is cheap. It is probably a much more complex issue. Sorry, starting to ramble. Anyway, in short, I don’t care who gets what bonus, I don’t care who gets paid what, and I don’t care about payroll, beyond the point that baseball has a broken system in that only about 1/3 or the teams can really compete year in and year out. The Pirates are not one of those teams.

        • I guess my real question would be, why does it matter? Ultimately, all fans should care about is winning at the major league level. I don’t care if they player making that happen is a first round pick, a twentieth round pick or a $10 international signing.

          I don’t live in Pittsburgh, so I have no idea if the “Nutting is cheap” arguement is as rampant as it is on message boards.

          • I agree, but about 4 years ago, the well financed clubs all started spending big money to sign players we are now starting to see getting to or close to the majors.

            In the last year, 3 of those big buck players have been a part of major trades – Eloy Jimenez, Gleyber Torres, and Joan Moncada – for established MLB Pitching Stars Aroldis Chapman, Chris Sale, and Jose Quintana. So, it has become big business and a big story.

            The Pirates have been very successful with inexpensive International signings like Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco, and Jose Osuna, all starters for the Pirates in 2017. Some others who will be Pirates in 2018 or shortly thereafter are Elias Diaz, Dovydas Neverauskas, and Edgar Santana. Some others making positive noise are Adrian Valerio, LoLo Sanchez, Edwin Espinal, Sherten Apostel, Rodolfo Castro, Roger Santana, and Oddy Nunez to name a few. The bonus money paid all 13 of the players mentioned would not total $4 mil.

            • This makes a ton of sense. Would it actually be a better plan to avoid all of the International big bonus players? Let other teams sign them, and then trade established major league players to acquire them after they have been developed? It does make a lot more sense financially, but you kind of have to accept that your team would only have windows of opportunity to win, and not expect to compete every year.

            • This is a miserably low bar for success.

              The only two actual successes you’ve listed were signed ten and eight years ago, respectively. The rest, save for those still in A-ball, don’t project to be more than middle relievers and backups, at best.

              This is what failure looks like for a low-revenue organization.

              • I did not list a few others no longer with the Pirates who have already made it to MLB or will soon, such as Hanson, Herrera, Garcia, Ramirez, and Polo. Herrera and Polo were part of trades for MLB talent – Marlon Byrd and Ivan Nova. Ramirez was also part of a trade for $$$$ and talent, but that’s a whole other story.

                Taking all of that into consideration, the Pirates have done very well on a very limited budget for International signings. Not like the Cubs, Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox, D’Backs, Houston, etc., but it is what it is. I think all of those teams have big TV money burning a hole in their pockets, and we will never be able to compete with them on an equal basis.

          • At this point, the bonus is indicative of the talent and potential, so the higher bonuses are going to be the players to follow until someone else deserves that attention. The bonus is also a good indicator of potential playing time.

            Plus the other fact I mentioned above, you want to see that your team isn’t just mailing it in because a lot of teams don’t give full effort yearly on the international side.

            The “Nutting is cheap” crowd doesn’t care about the Pirates spending all of their international bonus pool or even their draft pool. I’ve never seen one of them say “well at least they spent about $12M on the draft this year”

    • The Pirates International Signings list and strategy is a bad joke that repeats itself annually. I wouldn’t be publicizing these signings too much either…its the equivalent of the UDFA signings that NFL teams make after the NFL draft….leftovers with precious little odds of actually becoming a major league player….

    • I couldn’t possibly agree with you more. The Pirates are cheap with a nickel when it comes to signing Latin players and all you have to do is look at how many of these kids have developed over the last three or four years.

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