The Nationals announced Tuesday night their opening wave of internationals signings, the inking of seven players, on the opening day of the 2013-2014 international signing period. The Nationals signed two of each — right-handed pitchers, outfielders and catchers — and one left-handed pitcher, most from the Dominican Republic.
The Nationals spent $650,000 on the seven free agents, and they plan to use all $1.85 million of their bonus pool. Nationals ownership wants to be more aggressive – or at least as aggressive as they can be, given their limited bonus pool – because the Nationals were also limited in how much they could spend on their draft picks because of new spending caps.
Their biggest catch on the opening of the signing period was outfielder Victor Robles, a 16-year-old from the Dominican Republic who signed for a bonus of more than $200,000. Nationals scouts believe Robles is a five-tool player who will have the power to play a corner outfield position but also the speed to perhaps play center field in the future. Robles is listed at 6 foot, 185 pounds.
The Nationals gave five-figure bonuses to Jose Cabello and Edwin Trejos, catchers from Venezuela and Panama, respectively. The 16-year-old Cabello, 5-11 and 185 pounds, profiles as a power-hitting, strong-armed catcher and Trejos, 16 and listed at 6-0, 160 pounds, is regarded as a contact hitter, according to the Nationals.
Under this year’s rules for the international signing period, MLB gave each team a signing bonus pool based on their 2012 order of finish. Since the Nationals had the best record in the majors, they were given a bonus pool $1.85 million to spend on international signings, the smallest in the league. The Houston Astros, for example, have the largest signing bonus pool at $4.94 million. Teams may exceed their bonus pool, but the penalties for doing so are prohibitive.
Among the other signings: left-hander Jose Jimenez, 16, 6-1 and 190 pounds from the Dominican Republic; left-handed-hitting outfielder Dany Rojas, 16, 5-9 and 160 pounds and a Dominican Republic native; right-handed pitcher Angel Guillen, 16, 6-2 and, 155 pounds, from Venezuela; and right-handed pitcher Edwin Adames, 16, 6-2 and 190 pounds from the Dominican Republic.
None of the seven players announced are ranked in the top 30 international rankings of Baseball America and MLB.com.