The Angels made a rather surprising, yet significant, international addition on Tuesday, signing 20-year-old Cuban infielder Roberto Baldoquin to a deal that includes an $8 million signing bonus, per Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. Baldoquin's bonus sets a new record for amateur international players, more than doubling the $3.1 million given to shortstop Gilbert Lara by the Brewers in July.
Not much is known about Baldoquin except that he is a 20-year-old capable of playing shortstop, third base, and the outfield. He has spent the past three years with Las Tunas of Serie Nacional, according to Sanchez, and previously played for the Cuban National 16-and-under team. He defected from Cuba in February and has been training in the Dominican Republic ever since. He also starred in this excellent 10-minute workout video.
Over at Halos Daily, Nathan Aderhold was able to unearth Baldoquin's stats from Cuba. In his final Serie Nacional season in 2013, he hit .279/.372/.324 in 79 plate appearances, while playing exclusively at shortstop. Given his relative inexperience, it is likely that he begins his stateside career in the minors.
Since Baldoquin is just 20 and has played only three seasons in Serie Nacional, he is subject to MLB's international bonus pool rules, meaning his $8 million bonus shatters the $2.383 million pool allotted to the Angels over this signing period. Per MLB rules, the Angels will now essentially be forced to sit out the next two bonus periods, not being allowed to sign any players for more than $300,000. Of course, the club can still spend as much as it wants internationally for the remainder of the signing period ending in mid-June. This could make them a potential landing spot for prized Cuban outfield prospect Yoan Moncada.
While Baldoquin will likely begin his career in the minors, he could be able to help the Angels' big league club in 2016, coinciding perfectly with the free agencies of second baseman Howie Kendrick and third baseman David Freese, who have both also been thought to be available this winter.