Minor Leagues

Yankees sign five international free agents

The Yankees signed five free agents on the opening day of the international prospect signing period, including three players ranked in MLB’s Top 30 international prospects. The Yankees had been stifled for the last two years due to exceeding their total allocated signing pool in 2014, but definitely pounced on the international free agent market now that their constraints on signing players have been lifted.

Arguably the headliner of the Yankees’ class so far is Everson Pereira, a 16-year-old Venezuelan outfielder ranked number four on both Baseball America’s and MLB’s lists. The Yankees signed Pereira to a $1.5 million deal, according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. Pereira is a well-rounded prospect who can run fast and play good defense, making it likely he sticks in center field as a professional. He also has received praise for his bat speed, which could allow him to hit for average.

Another official signee is fellow Venezuelan 16-year-old Roberto Chirinos. Like Pereira, Chirinos’ strongest tools are his speed and defensive skill. On the other hand, Chirinos does not have a set position. He moved to shortstop from the outfield, but scouts think he has the arm, hands, and instincts to move to catcher eventually. The Yankees had been favored to sign Chirinos, who ranked 16th on MLB’s list and 20th on Baseball America’s, and officially inked him for $900,000, but it remains unclear which position the Yankees will assign him.

The Yankees reportedly have three other deals officially in place, having signed three Dominican prospects: outfielders Anthony Garcia and Stanley Rosario, and shortstop Miguel Marte. All three signed for deals under $500,000.

The club has not confirmed its signings yet, but there are also several players who industry insiders expect the Yankees to sign. Sanchez’s article notes that the Yankees are also expected to sign Dominican shortstop Ronny Rojas, the 11th-ranked free agent on MLB’s list, but cannot do so until he turns 16 in September. Rojas is a switch hitter, one who has drawn high praise for his hitting approach and his ability to hit for gap power from both sides. With a few years of development and physical maturity, it remains possible that he hits for significant power. The Yankees are also expected to sign another top-30 prospect, Venezuelan shortstop Osleivis Basabe, who has drawn favorable reviews for his speed and his potential power.

The Yankees have a total of $4.75 million they can spend in the international signing period, and have already committed approximately $3.4 million of that to their five current signees.

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