I see a lot of potential in like Gilberto Lara, Miguel Flames, Hyo Joon Park, Juan De Leon, Bryan Emery and smaller ticket guys like Felix Osorio and Elwin Tejada. These could be future major leaguers and potentially future stars. Although there is a ton of risk involved, young talent is the cheapest and most efficient way to build a long term contender.
In a world where Joey Votto is still owed well over $200 million dollars as a 30 year old first baseman who is hitting .255/.390/.409 and Joe Mauer is a 31 year old first baseman owed just under $100 million while hitting .271/.342/.353, it makes you question monetary spending.
With the current penalties that are applied to overspending, it isn't just a slap on the wrist. It is real money. With a dollar for dollar penalty on anything over the spending cap, Gilbert Lara's $3.1 million dollar bonus would cost $6.2 million out of pocket. You are talking about a guy who's ETA is around 2020 and considering money isn't free, you have to add on a cost to it. At a 15% interest rate on the money spent, he would need to return about 16 million dollars of value in his six controllable year. While we don't know what the cost of a Win Above Replacement will be in 2020, using 2014 values, that only equates to a couple wins. While it is likely he would greatly exceed that value if he reaches his ceiling, you are talking about a high risk investment where you could get zero return.
In my opinion, if the cash is available to invest in amateur talent acquisition, you should do it. MLB talent is hard to acquire, look at what the A's just had to give up to get Jeff Samarzija. While Addison Russell isn't a lock to be a future star, he is one of the top 10 prospects in baseball and Billy McKinney can rake. While he is likely a future LF with an average bat, that is still very valuable. Russell was a 2.625 million dollar investment as an #11 overall pick and McKinney signed for $1.8 million as the #24 overall pick. Money does not always equal talent but you have to spend the money and have the ability to spend it, which MLB severly restricts.
That is why I agree with what the Yankees are doing this year. That is why I overspent prior to the CBA setting limits on draft spending and my feeling is I should this year on international players as well. The problem is, there are penalties and I don't know who I'd be passing on in the 2015 and 2016 groups.
Then again talent is talent and the faster that you get a player into your system, the faster the return. While it is likely the Astros will get $12-13 million dollars worth of allotments over the next three years, it would take more than that to acquire comparable talent now due to fines. In my opinion, Juan De Leon is a player that a team could use as the centerpiece of an international crop. Signing one of them would really limit the ability to spread out the risk though.
My thought is to sign this group:
|P||Huascar Ynoa||Minnesota Twins||$800,000|
|P||Franklin Perez||Houston Astros||$1,000,000|
|P||Wander Cabrera||Chicago Cubs||$250,000|
|C||Lenin Rodriguez||Philadelphia Phillies||$300,000|
|1B||Bryan Pena||San Francisco Giants||$425,000|
|2B||Ricky Aracena||Kansas City Royals||$850,000|
|SS||Yonny Hernandez||Texas Rangers||$200,000|
|SS||Elwin Tejeda||Boston Red Sox||$300,000|
|SS||Jesus Navarro||Toronto Blue Jays||$200,000|
|SS||Jose Rivero||San Francisco Giants||$250,000|
|OF||Yondry Contreras||Pittsburgh Pirates||$400,000|
I always use international signings to fill the middle of the diamond. I need to load up on that. I won't get an impact talent that I would want here though and that doesn't work for me. THese totals would come up $50,000 short of my limit. I'd be willing to go 4.99% over to sway a few of these guys away from their existing teams but not more than that.
Considering the Astros will get anouther large allotment next season, I can't see blowing the budget this year due to the penalties. As the team improves, I could see doing it and if Gilbert Lara or Juan De Leon become big time prospects and turn into stars, I'll kick myself but it's too much risk for me in this scenario.