Pirates Prospects has learned that the Pittsburgh Pirates voided the contract of 16-year-old shortstop Gregori Custodio from the Dominican Republic. He was signed on July 2nd for $230,000, which was the fifth highest bonus that they handed out that day. We also learned that his contract was voided due to age/identification issues and problems with his paperwork.

Voided contracts aren’t that rare, but we don’t usually see three in one year like this signing period. That could be more due to the amount of players signed by the Pirates this year. They currently have 44 international players signed since July 2nd. The other two voided contracts were pitchers and both of those were due to prior injuries.

The downside is that you lose a top shortstop from your international class. The Pirates also signed Norkis Marcos for $250,000 on July 2nd, but before this year, you have to go back to 2013 and Adrian Valerio ($400,000) for a higher priced international shortstop. That ignores the fact that Francisco Acuna signed for $70,000 in 2016 and he looks like a steal right now, but the shortstop position should be a key target area each year. That’s because trainers will put their best players there to add to their value, even if they are unlikely to stick at the position.

It is possible that Custodio re-signs with the team, which has happened in the past. It happened twice with Yunior Montero due to ID issues and nothing was ever found wrong with his original ID. The Pirates lost Wei-Chung Wang in the Rule 5 draft after his first year because voided contracts who re-sign with their original team become Rule 5 eligible after their first year. That doesn’t happen often though, so it’s more likely that the Pirates now have an extra $230,000 worth of international bonus pool space to work with between now and June 15th.

Speaking of extra bonus pool space, outfielder Fabricio Macias from Mexico is still a target for the Pirates. We mentioned a month ago that he was headed to the Dominican Republic to workout for teams. Macias was given an award on Friday for being the top player under 23 in Mexico (it’s a yearly award) and in the press conference he mentioned that the Pirates, Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox are all showing interest to sign him. He said that he also worked out for the Tampa Bay Rays, but did not mention them as a team showing interest.

Macias is good friends with Fernando Villegas, who is also a 19-year-old outfielder from Mexico. Villegas signed with the Pirates last Friday.

Since we don’t know how much the Pirates had left in their international bonus pool, it’s possible that this new found space will help them get Macias. My own best guess on the remaining pool money from their original $5.75 M pool had them likely under $500,000 after their last signing. Being from Mexico, only 25% of the bonus paid to Macias (which is the amount he receives) would count against the bonus pool, so they have plenty of money left to sign him now because he’s not getting a seven-figure bonus.

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  1. Sign him since all it costs is money and the player has potential. They are not going to get the Mexican catcher next year as other teams will pay more if they deem him worth it, so lets get this guy.

  2. Joe Nuxhall! What’s the big deal about signing a 16? year old. Look at all the crap these youngster go through living in the DOM REP. Best move would be go to the academy and learn and receive an education. Keep him away from the Trinitarios.

  3. It is a tough call to project the International Players,but it appears from the reports about Macias he could be one of the top International players signed by Pittsburgh this year. Let’s hope they stay after him.

    • It helps that in Mexico, teams usually hold on to players longer to build up their value. Since they usually sign at 18-19, it’s more like scouting HS seniors or college freshmen, rather than trying to get deals done with kids at 15 in other countries so you’re not losing out on them when they turn 16.

      When you get players older, it’s easier to get a better idea of who they will be before they reach minor league free agency. I think losing Edwin Espinal this winter was tough. He went out and had a strong off-season, helping his team all the way up until the final game of the Caribbean Series. Would have been nice for the Pirates not to make a tough decision like that on him when he was 23. He looks like he will contribute at some point with the Tigers this year.

        • Espinal showed more power this year and he hits the ball hard. He just didn’t have a lot of loft to his swing before 2017. He’s a solid first baseman, who can fill in at third base if needed. I don’t think the Pirates will miss him due to his position and upside, but you hate to lose a future MLB player for nothing. Even with a waiver pick, you at least get some cash back, but a minor league free agent signing elsewhere gets you nothing. Would have been nicer to try to develop him from ages 19-25 instead of 17-23.

      • So, if the Pirates offer Fabricio Macias $1 mil, only $250,000 counts against their bonus pool? I have seen the video’s you and others have put up, and he seems to be a player already, and somebody who is not fully developed. This is somebody the Pirates need to get.

        • Yes, just the percentage the player receives counts against the bonus. The rest is considered a purchase price from the team.

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