Earlier this week it was reported that the Cincinnati Reds had agreed to a deal with Cuban shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez (known at Baseball Reference as Aldredo Rodriguez) for a $6M signing bonus. The price seemed awfully high at the time considering the additional money that would have to be paid to Major League Baseball as a penalty for going over their signing pool allotment.

Initial responses from Walt Jocketty claim he was a player of interest, but that the two sides didn’t have a deal. That’s what teams generally say until things are official, when the ink has been put to the paper rather than just when two sides have agreed to a deal, so the statements by the President of Baseball Operations weren’t overly surprising.

Today another report came out, this time from Mark Sheldon at MLB.com that quotes Reds General Manager Dick Williams saying things similar to what Walt Jocketty said earlier in the week, but also added this about a deal being nearly completed or just pending a physical:

“It’s not that far along,”

That quote could simply be more of the Reds talking to the media and simply pumping the brakes on things to the point where they won’t publicly admit they’ve agreed to terms on a player until it’s official. But, it could also mean a few other things.

The most obvious would be that contrary to earlier reports, the two sides haven’t agreed to a deal and they are still negotiating, along with other teams making offers for the shortstop. It wouldn’t be the first time that a big figure signing was announced as being agreed upon by someone in the media only to have it not come to fruition. Earlier this signing period the Cubs and Giants both claimed to have struck a deal with Eddy Julio Martinez. Eventually Major League Baseball stepped in and the agreement was given to the Cubs. A few years ago Baseball America’s Ben Badler reported that the Reds had agreed to a deal with left handed pitcher Luis Tejada for $600,000. Tejada never signed with the Reds and as far as I can tell, never wound up signing with anyone (he’s never appeared in a game for a team). These things don’t happen too often, but they aren’t subject to never happening.

Another reasoning could be that the two teams have agreed to a deal, but the Reds are doing all that they can in order to get Rodriguez to postpone signing the deal until July 2nd, which would save them several million dollars in penalties. Some early reports suggested that the two sides would push the deal until the next signing period, though reports followed that said he would sign in the current period. Signing now would cost the Reds additional money given that they have a much smaller pool allotment to work with, and they’ve already spent all of it, so they would be paying nearly a 100% tax. Signing him on July 2nd would put their tax around $1M, though it would probably rise to $2-3M total after making other, normal signings which they would have to pay a 100% tax on. Waiting to make the signing does however cost you development time.

If a player is signed today, he can head to spring training in February/March and work with the Reds coaches and get his season started in April at whichever level is deemed appropriate. If you wait to make the signing until July, that’s four months lost of time in your system, with your coaches. It means the player wasn’t playing in games, or facing live pitching that entire time and will have to begin, at some point shortly after signing, a short stint likely in Arizona or Billings to get his feet wet before finishing out the final month of the minor league season at a higher level where he probably gets roughly 100 at-bats. I’m not sure what exactly the time/value of that development is, but there’s got to be something there for essentially getting a full year of development in.

Time will tell how this plays out. The source of the original news is very well connected to the international scene, so it’s probably a deal that is going to happen, it’s just more of a matter of when rather than if. However, it wouldn’t be the first time that a deal has been reported as done when it wasn’t and the player wound up somewhere else.

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Doug Gray is the owner and operator of this website and has been running it since 2006 in one variation or another. You can follow him on twitter @dougdirt24, or follow the site on Facebook. and Youtube.

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