Houston Astros Say Adios to Cuban LHP Cionel Perez

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Sep 25, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; General view of a baseball before a game between the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; General view of a baseball before a game between the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /
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Cionel Perez’s dreams of wearing a Houston Astros uniform are looking less likely after his deal was voided.

Just when you thought that Jeff Luhnow had snagged one of the top international free agents of 2016, something changed. In September, the Houston Astros were reported to have signed 20-year-old left-handed pitcher Cionel Perez from Cuba. While we are not exactly sure what happened, Jake Kaplan reported that the Astros have voided the $5.15 million dollar deal.

If the deal were not voided, the Astros would have had to pay double the $5.15 million as a penalty for overspending. They would have had to pay $5.15 million to the player and pay a $5.15 million dollar tax penalty. While it is not likely the reason for the Astros voiding the deal, it could allow the team to use that money elsewhere.

Maybe the Astros could allocate that money into signing Lourdes Gurriel instead. Remember, they are saving $10.3 million dollars by voiding the deal. The voiding of the deal could have to do with something they saw during the physical. Besides, the Houston Astros have a recent history of backing out of a deal because of a medical report, see Brady Aiken in 2014.

Is there a bright side?

While Luhnow got a lot of grief following not signing Aiken, the next year, they ended up signing Alex Bregman with the compensation pick. Even though the 20-year-old Perez was highly sought after, he does not have much experience professionally in Cuba. Don’t cry for Perez. There were reportedly ten teams after Perez before the Astros signed him, he will find a home, according to Tim Dierkes.

While he might land somewhere, Perez may not get as good a deal as he had with the Astros. According to Kaplan, Perez was “set to receive the largest signing bonus awarded by the team for an international free agent under international signing guidelines.” There could be a chance that Houston tries to restructure the deal, similar to what they tried with Aiken.

Could they get another chance at Perez?

If I were Perez, I would be disappointed with how the team handled this situation. I might be unwilling even to discuss a lesser deal with them. Then again, all the other teams might wonder why the Astros backed out of the deal. They will be hesitant to throw too much money at the young left-hander. It is unknown as to whether the Astros have attempted to sign him again.

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One thing that’s for sure, Jeff Luhnow has made no secret that he is building a strong future with international players. Excluding the Perez deal, the team has already exceeded the international bonus pool budget. They had spent their allotted $2.197 million on the first day of signing on July 2. For all other deals, they would be penalized with the 100% tax similar to what it would have if the Perez deal were still in place.

While we may be disappointed or undecided now, what if this was a precursor to signing Lourdes Gurriel? The Astros can’t develop a reputation for backing out of deals. It will not look good for potential signings in the future. We will see as time progresses why this deal was voided.

Next: Astros: What to do about First Base?

The Astros will be restricted for the next two seasons on how much they can spend in the international market.

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