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.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.