The Cubs opened the latest international signing period with a big splash, agreeing to deals with three top-20 international prospects worth a reported $5.2 million. Though the team has yet to confirm the signings, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez has reported these and several other deals.
Source: #Cubs agree to a $2.7 million deal with SS Derniche Valdez, #6 on Top 50 Int’l Prospect list. Chicago also a $1.5 million deal with SS Ludwig Espinoza, who is ranked #14, and No. 19 SS Angel Cepeda for $1 million. The team has not confirmed. https://t.co/A3Ar3oUdTl
— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) January 15, 2023
The Cubs’ haul is highlighted by shortstop Derniche Valdez from the Dominican Republic, the sixth-ranked prospect in the 2023 class, for $2.7 million. Shortstop Ludwig Espinoza from Venezuela was the No. 14 prospect and signed for $1.5 million while yet another shortstop, No. 19 Angel Cepeda from the Dominican, agreed to a $1 million bonus.
Sanchez writes that the 16-year-old Valdez is expected to stay at short and could eventually mature into a middle-of-the-order producer. Espinoza is a year older and has the kind of contact skills that could project as a leadoff type of hitter. Cepeda is also 17 and can play all over the field, though his offensive skills are more coveted than his defense. It will probably be at least a year before we see these teenagers playing stateside in the Arizona Complex League.
These signings burned up pretty much all of the Cubs’ $5.284 million IFA bonus pool, so any other signings are going to be smaller in nature. However, they’ve already been reported as the favorites to sign Fernando Cruz, the top-ranked player in next year’s class.