Cuban right-hander Luis Morales, a coveted 19-year-old prospect who is expected to command a record-breaking sum for a pitcher from the international bonus pool, will be eligible to sign with an MLB team as a free agent on Sept. 7 after his declaration Thursday, a source confirmed to ESPN.
The Oakland Athletics are considered big favorites to sign Morales, who has peaked at 97 mph or 99 mph in various workouts for MLB teams. He left the Cuban U-23 team in Mexico City in September 2021.
Morales, who hosted Open Showcases for teams in Mexico City in January and April, has a breaking ball that’s said to be above average, but his move is a clear third pitch and his command still comes and goes as pitchers do with it common is kind of speed as a teenager.
With most of the pool money spent in this current international contract period, Morales is expected to sign at the start of the next period on January 15.
The largest bonus awarded to a pitcher since the international bonus pool was capped was Cuban right-hander Sandy Gaston, who received $2.61 million from the Tampa Bay Rays in 2018. Shohei Ohtani received $2.315 million from the Los Angeles Angels in December 2017.
Oakland’s strategy of late has been to invest at the forefront of the international market. If the Athletics can land Morales as expected, it would have reflected a bold move from the team’s past. Before the salary cap, the A’s set an international bonus record in 2008 by signing Dominican right-hander Michael Ynoa with a $4.25 million bonus.
Total international pool amounts for each MLB team range from about $4.5 million to just over $6 million per year. The highest bonus for a pitcher this current period was $1.7 million for Jarlin Susana, an 18-year-old right-hander who has hit triple figures with his fastball and was included in Juan Soto’s San Diego-Washington trade package.
Pitchers are considered a much greater risk to teams at this age, with the top players typically signing by the age of 16. The top 15 bonuses in the current international signing period have all gone to positions, and at least one position has received at least $4 million per year under this system.
Beisbolfr.com first reported the news that Morales was declared a free agent by MLB.
https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/34464005/cuban-teen-luis-morales-declared-free-agent-mlb-expected-get-record-bonus-pitcher-source-confirms Cuban teen Luis Morales declared free agent by MLB, expected to get record bonus for a pitcher, source confirms