Blue Jays sign de Castro for $1.2M as they spread international bonus pool

Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins. (Chris Young/CP)

TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays sought to diversify their spending in Latin America as the international free agent period opened Tuesday, making Dominican shortstop Rikelvin de Castro their top spend at $1.2 million and then signing a handful of other six-figure buys.

Prime among them is Venezuelan centre-fielder Robert Robertis, who gets $750,000, and Dominican slugger Penier Brito, who gets $600,000, according to industry sources. The Blue Jays had a bonus pool of $5,398,300 to work with this year and their approach is in contrast to last year, when they devoted roughly 70 per cent of their bonus pool to shortstop Orelvis Martinez, who signed for $3.5 million

Their other six-figure spends Tuesday are outfielder Christian Feliz and left-hander Cristopher Castro from the Dominican Republic, and catcher Victor Mesia plus right-handers Cesar Ayala and Dahian Santos out of Venezuela.

They are also in agreement with Venezuelan shortstop Estiven Machado, with more deals likely to come in the next few days.

The Blue Jays’ spending Tuesday also included $500,000 to sign Vanderbilt catcher Philip Clarke, their ninth-round pick in last month’s draft. His addition pushed them $369,200 over their draft-bonus pool of $8,463,300, meaning they’ll have to pay a penalty of 75 per cent on the overage.

Player and Round Slot Value Bonus Difference
1. Alek Manoah $4,547,500 $4,547,500
2. Kendall Williams $1,403,200 $1,547,500 $144,300
3. Dasan Brown $678,600 $800,000 $121,400
4. Will Robertson $492,700 $422,500 $(70,200)
5. Tanner Morris $367,900 $397,500 $29,600
6. Cameron Eden $279,500 $222,500 $(57,000)
7. L.J. Talley $218,500 $22,500 $(196,000)
8. Angel Camacho $175,000 $2,500 $(172,500)
9. Philip Clarke $154,900 $500,000 $345,100
10. Glenn Santiago $145,500 $172,500 $27,000
15. Michael Dominguez $125,000 $197,500 $72,500
Total $8,463,300 $8,832,500 $(369,200)

* Only spending beyond $125,000 counts against the draft pool for players chosen after the 10th round.

But, by not outspending their pool by more than five per cent, they avoided the loss of a draft pick. The Blue Jays also signed two more pitchers from the draft, 18th rounder Brandon Eisert out of Oregon State and Parker Caracci out of Ole Miss.

Back on the international side, de Castro is the headliner, described as lean, wiry, quick-twitch athletic shortstop who plays with lots of energy. While the Blue Jays like his swing and feel he’ll grow into the strength to be a gap-to-gap doubles type of hitter, they’re particularly bullish on his defensive abilities, feeling he’s got all the ingredients needed to be a plus defender up the middle.

Robertis is a left-handed hitting centre-fielder with speed and impressive pull power with the potential to be a five-hole type of bat. He has a big leg kick when he hits but is able to time it up well.

Brito owns what’s described as “monster power” he generates from a wide, Jeff-Bagwell-esque base. He’s built like an NFL tight end and projects as some type of corner player, with the arm and agility to play third base or right field.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.