Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Shohei Otani, the Braves Loss and the Yankees Gain

Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to Get Greedy, pillage the Atlanta Braves and move on and get past the fact that Shohei Otani made the biggest mistake of his life not joining the New York Yankees. The Yankees allocated $3.5 million in international free agent money with the hopes of luring Japanese phenom Shohei Otani away from the Japanese League and to the Bronx. Now that New York has learned that they will not be the team employing Mr. Otani in 2018 and beyond the Yankees still have that boatload of IFA cash just sitting around while a team like the Atlanta Braves just lost 13 of their prospects after circumventing the international signing rules in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Coincidence? Well I personally don’t believe in coincidences, but I do believe in taking advantage of other misfortunes when those who are being harmed have brought it upon themselves so let’s take a look at the prospects the Braves lost and the prospects that the Yankees should pounce on and sign immediately.

The best and most notable prospect the Braves signed and lost is switch-hitting Kevin Maitan who is currently a restricted free agent out of Venezuela. Maitan was a consensus top-100 prospect heading into the 2017 at just 17-years old after signing with the Braves for $4.25 million in 2016. Maitan was the Braves 9th best prospect at the time of the investigation in a pretty well stacked Atlanta farm system so all attention will likely be on Maitan now that he is available for all. Maitan hit .241/.290/.340 with two home runs in 176 plate appearances between the Gulf Coast League and the advanced rookie league in 2017 at just 17-years old, although he did strike out a lot more than one would probably like. Maitan is 17-years old though and that is to be expected. What is important is that Maitan did not look overmatched in 2017 and should only get better as he matures both physically and mentally. Sign him now.

Atlanta also lost another 17-year old prospect in catcher Abrahan Guitierrez. Guitierrez played 35 games in the Gulf Coast League here in 2017 after signing with Atlanta for $3.53 million in 2016. Abrahan, now 18-years old, slashed .264/.319/.357/.676 in the Gulf Coast League with one home run and 12 RBI in 129 plate appearances last season while striking out over two times as many times as he drew a walk. Again, like Maitan, he was just 17-years old and showed promise while not looking completely overmatched. Also, he is a catcher which instantly makes his stock and value all the more important as an offensive piece. Guitierrez showed gap power in his small sample size and may have all the makings of being the next Gary Sanchez is properly groomed.

Infielder Yunior Severino is another prospect that the Yankees should be looking at with their IFA money. Severino spent time with the Dominican Summer League Braves and the Gulf Coast League Braves slashing a combined .270/.345/.420/.765 with three home runs and 29 RBI. Most of Severino’s damage came after his promotion to the GCL in 189 plate appearances after just 37 at-bats in the DSL. Severino has worse strikeout numbers than either of the two prospects mentioned previously after striking out a whopping 67 times in 2017 to just 24 walks, again though Severino is just 17-years old. Severino actually had the most success of the three offensive prospects, albeit all three were in a small sample size.

Right-handed pitcher Juan Contreras is the last prospect the Yankees should keep their eye on as the team shifts its international spending focus from Otani to others after signing with the Braves as well in 2016. Contreras only threw 19.1 innings in 2017 for the Dominican Summer League and Gulf Coast League Braves so it is hard to get a gauge on how the right-hander will handle advanced talent but with a 6’2” frame at 180 lbs. Contreras has all the makings of being an MLB-caliber starting pitcher and could be an absolute steal after the Braves IFA debacle.

Baseball American ranked these Braves prospects within the 2016 class of international free agents as so:

Maitan: #1 overall
Severino: #8 overall
Guitierrez: #15 overall
Contreras: #41 overall

Can the Yankees sign all of these prospects? Well I guess they could while blowing past the international spending limitations set by the league, but should they? No, as the farm system is already stacked while there is already a young core in place at the big-league level. Should the Yankees try to sign one or two of these prospects though? Absolutely, do it now. The sooner the better. Sorry, Atlanta. 


  1. And just like that the Angels signed Maitan for $2.2 million this afternoon. Sigh. Missed opportunity.

  2. The 2017 scouting reports on Maitan weren't that great. I realize that he is only 17 but I don't think he has the same value he had when he was rated the #1 international prospect. I see greater need for some of the other guys you've mentioned plus I am intrigued with Cuban outfielder Julio Pablo Martinez.


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