2019 MLB Draft: Carter Stewart, the righthanded pitcher who was the #8 pick of the 2018 MLB Draft by the Atlanta Braves, but went unsigned, has agreed to terms with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League, per Ken Rosenthal on Twitter. Rosenthal says that Stewart, a potential 2019 first round pick who is pitching for Eastern Florida State College this year, was “believed to be seeking” a bonus of $7 million from MLB teams, an ask that it seems unlikely any MLB team would meet.
While American players go to play in the Far East all the time, they are generally veteran AAAA types who can make more money over there than they can playing in AAA in the United States while hoping for a major league opportunity. Stewart, 19, is the first player I can think of in recent years who has gone over to Japan while he was draft-eligible and expected to be a relatively high pick.
Stewart would, presumably, be subject to the same rules any other international free agent would be subject to, meaning that if his JPL team posted him, teams would have to pay a posting fee, as well as be limited in the bonus they can give him under the current J-2 rules, until he turns 25.
UPDATE — In regards to the last paragraph, Jim Callis calls the situation an “unknown”:
It's an unknown. I believe MLB would take the position that Stewart would be subject to the Draft until he signs with an MLB organization. I believe Stewart's camp would take a different position and we might see a grievance or lawsuit. https://t.co/mhmO7e4lb1— Jim Callis (@jimcallisMLB) May 21, 2019