The Texas Rangers have traded shortstop Yeyson Yrizarri to the Chicago White Sox for international bonus pool money, the Rangers announced today.
This is interesting...Yrizarri, 20, was a highly regarded signee of the Rangers in their 2013 J-2 class, and has spent most of the season at low-A Hickory, though he was just recently promoted to high-A Down East. Yrizarri hasn’t hit much — he has a .258/.285/.399 slash line on the year between the two levels — but he’s considered a quality defensive shortstop, and is a prospect, not an organizational depth guy.
The Rangers and the ChiSox each have a bonus pool for the 2017-18 signing period of $4.75 million. The Rangers have signed a number of players, though it isn’t clear that the signings total $4.75 million at this point. Chicago, meanwhile, has appeared to have spent very little of its $4.75 million pool.
Under the new rules, the bonus pool is a hard cap, but teams can trade for up to 75% of their original pool — in the case of the Rangers, that would be a little over $3.56 million. There’s no indication at this point how much of Chicago’s pool money they are getting.
This move, though, would seem to indicate one of two things — either the Rangers have more international players they have deals with that they need pool money to sign, or the Rangers are loading up on pool money to maximize what they can offer Japanese pitcher Shohei Ohtani.
Ohtani, if you are not familiar, is a 23 year old stud pitcher in Japan who the Rangers have been scouting for some time, and who Jon Daniels and company went and scouted in May (despite Ohtani being sidelined at the time). Ohtani is considered the best pitching prospect from Japan since...well, since Yu Darvish. He’s viewed as a legitimate top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher.
The Rangers, by all accounts, want Ohtani badly. And if Ohtani wants to come over to the U.S. this offseason, any team who is willing to pay the $20 million posting fee (the new maximum amount allowed) that goes to Ohtani’s team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, can negotiate with Ohtani. However, Ohtani is subject to the J-2 limits, just as any other international free agent under the age of 25 is.
So...this may be nothing. Or it may be a sign that the Rangers expect Ohtani to announce this offseason he’s coming to the United States, and are loading up on available international bonus pool money they can offer him.