BALTIMORE – The Toronto Blue Jays have signed one Cuban pitcher and two Dutch hurlers with the international bonus pool money acquired in the trades of Kendrys Morales and Dwight Smith Jr., according to industry sources.
The deals were completed recently, sneaking in ahead of Saturday’s deadline for using 2018 spending slots and before the July 2 opening of this year’s signing period.
They picked up $1 million from the Oakland Athletics in the Morales deal plus another $500,000 from the Baltimore Orioles for Smith. Acquiring the spending slots so late in the period with the top players already signed forced the Blue Jays to be creative in identifying talent worth betting on.
The majority of their spending room was used on acquiring Yosver Zulueta, a 21-year-old righty from Cuba who has reportedly been clocked up to 98 m.p.h. and sits 94-95. He’s pitched for Granma in the Cuban National Series.
Out of the Netherlands, the Blue Jays signed 17-year-old right-handers Jiorgeny Casimiri and Sem Robberse, both of whom have played in the Dutch league – described as roughly equivalent to the D2 college level in the United States – and on the under-18 national team.
Casimiri, working as a reliever, has been up to 92-94, while Robberse, a starter, has been 84-87 with a good delivery and feel on the mound.
Earlier in the spring, they also signed 17-year-old Mexican right-hander Jonathan Bernal for roughly $100,000. He’s currently pitching for the Blue Jays’ entry in the Dominican Summer League.
The Blue Jays have an international bonus pool of $5,398,300 in 2019. Last year, they signed shortstop Orelvis Martinez for $3.5 million, devoting 70 per cent of their pool to a single player.