Today officially begins the 2020-21 International Free Agent signing period. In typical years this period begins on July 2, but this year it was delayed until January 15.
The Tampa Bay Rays have a $6,431,000 signing bonus pool that is matched only by the Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, Miami Marlins, Detroit Tigers, and Minnesota Twins. Unlike most recent seasons teams will not be able to trade for additional pool money. This is a practice the Rays have routinely participated in.
Any signing bonus that is above $10,000 counts towards the pool.
The Rays have been connected to two of the top prospects (we wrote about them in April 2020!) and should account for almost all of the budget for this cycle.
SS Carlos Colmenarez
Carlos Colmenarez is one of the top prospects available during this signing period. He is ranked number four by MLB.com and is the lone 45+ FV prospect at FanGraphs trailing only behind the 25 year old Ha-seong Kim who just signed a contract with the San Diego Padres.
Baseball America ranked him fourth, but this year they are only going by expected signing bonus as they haven’t been able to go through their typical scouting process due to the pandemic.
Colmenarez is a left handed hitting 6’1” shortstop that shows the actions to stay at shortstop long term and have potential impact at the plate.
Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs writes, “He is a caliber of prospect commensurate with a mid-first round pick.”
This will be the big splurge as $3MM accounts for almost 50% of the Rays spending limit.
OF Jhonny Piron
Jhonny Piron is an outfielder that already stands 6’2”. The Dominican born prospect currently is ranked 17th by MLB.com and Baseball America.
Piron is known for his speed and power potential. Currently he is expected to start in centerfield, but could be forced to a corner outfield spot as he gains strength.
With Colmenarez and Piron accounting for $4.8MM of the Rays $6.4MM pool there shouldn’t be any high profile signings, but the Rays will sign some unheralded players. In the past the Rays signed Yonny Chirinos for $10k and Vidal Brujan for $15k, so just because they aren’t big prospects now doesn’t mean they can’t be useful down the line.
Luis Ariza, ss, Venezuela
Gabriel Arias, ss, Dominican Republic
Jesus Quevedo, ss, Venezuela
Nathanael Rodriguez, ss, Dominican Republic