According to Baseball America’s Ben Badler, the Mets will have $4,983,500 to spend during 2018-19 international free agent period. This sum is up slightly as compared to their 2017-2018 international free agent bonus pool, which was valued at $4.75 million. During the international free agent signing period, which begins July 2 and ends June 15, all 30 MLB teams have the opportunity to sign international rookies—defined as players 16 or over without six years of experience playing in a foreign professional league recognized by Major League Baseball.
Leading up to and when the international signing period begins, the Mets will be able to add to their international free agent bonus pool. Teams can trade for up to an additional 75% of their original bonus pool value. With an initial bonus pool value of $4,983,500, the Mets can trade for up to $3,737,625, giving them a hard cap of $8,721,125 that can be spent during the 2018-2019 signing period. In 2017, the Mets traded infielder Milton Ramos to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for $1 million in additional bonus pool funds.
In recent years, the Mets have had success in identifying and signing high-upside international rookies. During the 2015-2016 signing period, the Mets put virtually their entire signing bonus pool into two highly-regarded players, Venezuelan shortstop Andres Gimenez and Dominican infielder Gregory Guerrero, who were signed for $1.2 and $1.5 million dollars, respectively. While Guerrero, the nephew of Hall of Gamer Vladimir Guerrero and a cousin of Toronto Blue Jays top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr., has not progressed as hoped, Gimenez has—and is currently the Mets’ top prospect.
During the 2017-2018 signing period, the Mets signed multiple players regarded as being in the top echelon of the class. The crown jewel among them was Ronnie Mauricio, a shortstop from the Dominican Republic that was considered one of the top talents in the class. The organization thought so highly of his skill that they signed him for $2.1 million, the largest sum ever given an international rookie by the Mets. In addition to Mauricio, the team signed Dominican outfielders Adrian Hernandez and Stanly Consuegra and Venezuelan pitcher David Marcano.
According to Badler, the Mets have been linked to a pair of high-profile international rookies that will be eligible to sign during the 2018-2019 period.
Francisco Alvarez, a 16-year-old catcher from Venezuela, is currently considered one of the strongest players in the class and generates plus raw power from his short, violent swing and his stocky 5’11”, 220 lb. body. Despite his thick frame, Alvarez moves surprisingly well behind the plate. His arm is strong and he has a quick pop. While he moves well behind the plate, there is room for improvement in his receiving and blocking. In addition to refining those aspects of his catching ability, he will need to stay on top of his conditioning.
Freddy Valdez, a corner outfielder from the Dominican Republic, is another player whose raw power is currently his best baseball tool. The 6’3”, 210 lb. right-hander is very aggressive at the plate, taking violent hacks with a long swing that often cost him his balance. Suffice to say, his is a power-over-hit profile. While his strong arm would fit well in the outfield, Valdez is a below-average runner whose mobility in the outfield has led evaluators to question whether or not he will be able to play there in the long-term. If he is forced to move into the infield, he will undoubtedly be limited to first base, where he has shown some skill at scooping ground balls.