What this boils down to is in previous years, Liga clubs would often take as much as 75% of a player's signing bonus from MLB in order to release their players from contracts. The percentage that went to the Liga team did not count against the MLB club's IFA cap. But with no standard in place, you can understand that there was the potential for abuse. The Cubs agreement with former Top 30 IFA prospect Florencio Serrano (RHP, 2017) was voided prior to the MLB suspending all transfer agreements with Mexico last June. Now, for players that are under 25 years old, which figures to be the vast majority of the deals, the Liga club will receive a standard 35% rate. This fee will continue to not count against the MLB club's IFA spending limits.
The Cubs have previously done a lot of business with Liga clubs, not only in the failed Serrano deal, but also for recent top prospects Jose Albertos, Reivaj Garcia, Luis Verdugo, as well as Isaac Paredes, who the Cubs dealt to the Tigers in the Justin Wilson/Alex Avila trade in 2017. Paredes is now rated as the Tigers #4 prospect.
With the deal still fresh, and the Cubs 2018 IFA budget almost all spent, it is hard to say if the club could rekindle talks on an agreement for Serrano. It is possible another MLB team would have more IFA room remaining. Or Serrano and his Liga club could potentially wait until the next signing period opens this summer.
- Brad Brach is scheduled to make his Cactus League debut today. Brach's signing with the Cubs was delayed due to a case of mono revealed during his physical that led to a restructuring of the previously agreed upon deal, with more of the contract incentive driven and the club's buyout of their team option next year shrinking. His base salary for 2019 is now set at $1.65M with up to $850K available in appearance bonuses, and a $5M team option for 2020 (with $100K buyout). Brach also holds a $1.35M player option for 2020.
- The Cubs other late signing, lefty Xavier Cedeno has been slowed by a wrist injury. There is no word yet on when he will take the mound, but if it is not soon there is a good chance he will not be ready for Opening Day. With Brian Duensing pitching fairly well this spring, Cedeno would have faced an uphill battle to earn a job out of the gate anyway considering he still has an option year remaining. The Cubs will have a very deep stable of left-handed arms available in Iowa, with Cedeno joining fellow 40-man options Kyle Ryan and Randy Rosario, as well as 2018 PCL All-Star Alberto Baldonado. Veterans Mike Zagurksi and Rob Zastryzny are also available. I have not seen any updates or appearances from another AAA/MLB veteran Jerry Vasto, who the Cubs acquired on waivers, so he may be hurt. The Cubs also picked up former 1st round pick Ian Clarkin off waivers from the White Sox, and traded for Connor Lillis-White from the Angels in the Tommy La Stella deal, but the log jam in Iowa figures to push those two down to AA Tennessee.
- Some pitchers prefer to get their spring work done in simulated games rather than against divisional opponents they will already face multiple times throughout the year, which appears to have been the case on Monday when Cole Hamels and Mike Montgomery both threw two innings on the backfields rather than pitch in the game against the Reds that was started by Alec Mills. Brandon Kintzler also joined that group for an inning.
- If you have a subscription to the Athletic, Sahadev Sharma has gained some insight into the Cubs highly secretive Pitch Lab that they opened in Mesa last spring, and have continued to supplement over the past year. One interesting tidbit from the article is Kyle Hendricks credits it with helping him solve his velocity problems that cropped up last season when had dropped into the mid-80s with his fastball.