UPDATED: Done deal, according to Jorge Arangure, who works for ESPN.com. $3.1M deal, record breaker for Cards.
Bu-bam! Per Ben Badler
The latest buzz in Latin America is that the Cardinals are expected to sign 16-year-old Dominican outfielder Wagner Mateo for a bonus of approximately $3 million on July 2.
A $3 million bonus would be the second-biggest bonus ever given to an amateur international player from Latin America, and the largest bonus ever for a Latin American hitter.
Wow. Not only is a $3M bonus the largest bonus given to a Latin American hitter, it’s also almost the largest bonus the Cardinals have ever given to an amateur. J.D. Drew received a $3M bonus, Rick Ankiel’s was the 2nd highest bonus at $2.5M. This also obviously shatters the $1.1M record bonus given to Roberto de la Cruz last year by far. Pretty monumental stuff.
My initial reaction is “wow”. That’s a lot of scratch for a 16-year old kid. Is he worth it? Kiley McDaniel ranked him the 3rd best Latin American on the market, besides Miguel Sano and Gary Sanchez. McDaniel says he’s what scouts call a “tool shed” and he’s been drawn some lofty comparisons — Carlos Beltran, Curtis Granderson and Grady Sizemore. Reading other sources, some scouts like his swing and see him as more of a line-drive hitter than a big home run threat. They also see a filled-out body for a youngster (yes, his background checks were fine) at 6-1, 190 and think he’ll eventually be moved to a corner, where his bat wouldn’t profile quite as well.
Here’s a video of Mateo in action, shot by BP’s Kiley McDaniel.
This is exciting stuff, but I’m always a little leery about giving 16-year old kids gobs of money like this. If this means no Shelby Miller, which I don’t think it does, or at least I really hope it doesn’t, then groovy. Way to build up the farm system with some high upside talent. But Mateo at the expense of Miller wouldn’t look as hot.
What’s also interesting about this is that Joe Strauss reported earlier that Mozeliak was traveling to the DR to look at Sano. No doubt he was also checking out Mateo, and there was a rumor that Mateo turned down a $3M offer. Sounds like they realized the mistake and took the offer after all.