Alfredo Rodriguez has reportedly agreed to sign with the Cincinnati Reds, according to MLB.com writer Jesse Sanchez, who tweeted this:
— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) January 12, 2016
There are so many things that need to be addressed here, but first let’s talk about Rodriguez. He’s listed at 5′ 10″ and 180 lbs. At that size, he’s kind of the guy you’d imagine. Very strong on defense, particularly at shortstop where he’s got quick reaction time and strong range. He’s also a plus runner.
At the plate though, there are some serious questions. In his only season in Cuba he posted this line as a 20-year-old:
None of those are typos. Four extra-base hits in 304 plate appearances with a .284 slugging percentage. He’s certainly young for that level, but that’s anemic. Not that he’s in any way comparable to Yasiel Puig, but in the same league as a 19-year-old, Puig smacked 19 doubles, six triples and 17 home runs while slugging .581.
Scouting reports suggest there’s not much room for power growth. Maybe he can develop into a little more gap power, but gains in home runs seem to be very minimal. His swing is considered very “armsy” without much use of his lower half. Perhaps the Reds can work on his swing and get things moving in the right direction and get some more out of his bat than what he seemed to show in Cuba at the plate.
As a player, I’m just not sure how he projects to be a starter. He’s going to have to be Omar Vizquel or Rey Ordonez type of good defensively if he’s going to carry a bat like that without serious improvements along the way.
The signing cost the Reds a reported $6M, which puts them well over their bonus allotment. That means that they are essentially paying $12M in total for this signing after the fine paid to MLB for going over, and they are giving up the rights to sign international players for the next two seasons. They however can continue to sign players until this signing period ends in May.
The only way that this makes sense, is if the Reds continue to go out and spend tons of money on more international players. They need to load up and make it count given that they will not be allowed to sign anyone else for the next two years for over $300,000. There are still some big names out there, and they won’t be cheap (though perhaps the 16-year-olds still out there could be slightly cheaper than Rodriguez). If this is the only move the Reds make on the market, it’s about as confusing as it can possibly be. If this is just the first step to spending a whole lot of money on international players and boosting the farm system with sheer monetary force, then this is a lot more understandable. But, it still seems like a massive overpay for this particular player.
So, in the rush to get this article published, I forgot to add in something rather important to the story. With the Cincinnati Reds having to now forfeit the ability to sign players in the 2016 and 2017 international signing periods because of this signing, they are essentially wasting what is going to be the second highest allotment pool for the 2016 season. Given how the 2016 season is likely to play out, they are also probably giving up another Top 5 allotment pool in 2017. The Reds absolutely, must make the rest of this signing period count with all of that taken into account.