Cubs Go Over Budget to Land Three Big International Free Agents

Armed with a little over $5.3 million, the Cubs went out and did the expected Tuesday morning by signing a trio of highly-touted international free agents. I say “expected” because the July 2 signing date is a little bit of a farce. The Cubs were known to be in on all three players as early as January when reports began coming out from both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline.

Still, nothing is ever certain until it happens and now it has actually happened. There was a bit of a surprise in terms of the total cost to sign these players, which came to around $5.7 million. We will discuss the price implications later, but let’s get into the prospects themselves first.

Catcher Ronnier Quintero has a sweet left-handed swing and was ranked number six on MLB Pipeline’s top 30 international free-agent list. His stroke looks really smooth and his actions behind the plate are just as effortless. He makes it look easy and he probably will be in Mesa next year at this time. According to Baseball American and MLB Pipeline’s Jesse Sanchez, the cost to sign Quintero was $3 million.

That is $1 million more than they paid their top draft pick in 2019, but Quintero’s talent is evident on film and I cannot wait to see him next year.


Shortstop Kevin Made came in at $1.7 million. Both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline complement his fielding skills, but it’s all about projection when you watch a video on him. He’s a pretty wiry kid who has a lot of room to add muscle over the next few years. Like Quintero, he should be in Mesa to start toward the 2020 season.

Most people who had read up on international free agency knew that the Cubs were linked to three top-30 prospects. Quintero and Made were announced shortly after 8am, then we had to sit around and wait for Brayan Altuve, a catcher from Venezuela, to officially be announced. The young backstop has promising power and his defense has garnered praise as well.

“He flashes above-average arm strength, good range and overall adequate defensive actions,” Sanchez wrote. “Like most catchers his age, he’s still working on his receiving skills and calling games.”

The Cubs had already used $4.7 million of their bonus pool, so heads turned when Sanchez announced that the they had signed Altuve for $1 million. The Cubs likely have another deal in place to acquire additional pool money, since these three signings put them $300,000 over budget.

We’ll have to wait to hear how this “extra” $300,000 is explained by the Cubs brass, but it may become evident in other moves. As a final note, any deal of $10,000 or less does not count against the bonus pool. So the Cubs can go sign all kinds of quantity there as well as acquire more money. This signing period ends June 15, 2020.

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