The Houston Astros make another splash in the International free agent market by signing 20-year-old Elian Rodriguez.
The Cuban right-hander the Houston Astros signed, is not the same Elian you remember from the year 2000. He was not part of the closet raid and eventually sent back to Cuba. Believe it or not, there are probably multiple Elian Rodriguez’s out there. That kid is now 24-25 years old.
According to Ben Badler, the Houston Astros signed Rodriguez to a $2 million dollar agreement to join the organization. Rodriguez is a 6’4” right-handed pitcher who can throw his fastball at 97 mph but typically sits in the mid-90s. Badler also reports that he throws a hard slider and a curveball. While he does have a mid-80s changeup, he hasn’t really used it much.
Maybe working with MiLB coaches will help him gain confidence in that pitch. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was not the only player the Astros add between now and June 15. The Astros have gone over their signing bonus pool for this year and have to pay a 100% overage penalty now. They did so with Cionel Perez and do so now with Rodriguez.
The money issue.
This means that to sign him, they give him the $2 million signing bonus but also have to pay the same amount in overage penalties. Jeff Luhnow has devoted a lot of money in the international free agent market this year. With the new CBA in place, it will change the amount of money that players can get as a signing bonus.
"Astros Reach $2 Million Agreement With Cuban Pitcher Elian Rodriguez"
Because they went over their salary pool this year, the Astros will face future penalties this upcoming signing period. They want to get as much talent now before the cutoff on June 15. Then they will have some restrictions from there. You also saw them trade for Yordan Alvarez last year, who could be a big factor in the future. Rodriguez will probably start the season in the Rookie-level, not confirmed.
They landed a big fish with Yulieski Gurriel as well. The Astros are making a big push to not only load up on prospects through the draft but also via the international market. Rodriguez has not had much experience in the Cuban leagues but could blossom with time. With a 3-4 pitch arsenal, they might try him out as a starter for now.