St. Louis Cardinals: A Race To Sign Cuban Prospect Luis Robert


The St. Louis Cardinals are rumored to have a real chance at signing the 19 year old Cuban prospect Luis Robert.

According to Ben Badler of Baseball America, the Cuban prospect has officially left his home country.  Luis Robert has been scouted since the age of 15.  With the new CBA rules on international signings, it was time for Robert to try his hand in America. Are the St. Louis Cardinals interested and should they be?

Under the new CBA, teams can only sign an international player for between five and six million dollars in their first contract.  This means that if Robert can get signed prior to the implementation of the rules on July 2nd, he can have a bigger pay day.

Robert was a top-five player last year in Cuba at the age of 18.  The right-handed-hitting outfielder stands at 6’3″ and 185 pounds.  In his most recent season, Robert had 232 plate appearances where he slashed .401/.526/.687 with 12 homers.  He also showed maturity on the base paths, stealing 11 bases in 17 attempts.

Signing Robert is going to be a story to follow by itself.  The new CBA rules don’t take effect until after the June 15th closing of international signings.  So if the prospect is available prior to that date, then the St. Louis Cardinals, along with six other teams, would be able to benefit from it.  This is because the Cardinals prganization has already exceeded its bonus pools.

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A bonus pool is the amount of money allocated to a team for international amateur signings.  The size of the bonus pool under the new CBA depends on the size of the team’s market.  Smaller markets bonus pools are as high as 5.75 million dollars, while larger markets sit at 4.75 million dollars.  Teams are allowed to exceed these limits, but they will take on a penalty.

In the case of the St. Louis Cardinals, signing Robert (before June 15th) could be for whatever price they want, but they will have to pay a 100 percent overage tax for being over their bonus pool.  The top bonus for a Cuban prospect for this year is 11 million to lefty Adrian Morejon by the San Diego Padres.  Morejon is also a 19 year old who went 2-1 with a 4.48 ERA last season in the Cuban National Series.

June 15th is an important date because following that is a two week period where no international signings can be made.  When the international market opens back up on July 2nd, the more strict CBA rules on international signings and bonus pools will be in effect.  This means Robert will make less money.

Once July 2nd passes, the St. Louis Cardinals will most likely not be able to sign the Robert.  This is because under the new CBA rules, teams that exceed their bonus pools will not be able to sign a player for more than the league minimum: $300,000 dollars.

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This will certainly be a story to track.  Robert has shown scouts for four years now that he is worth trying to sign.  If the St. Louis Cardinals want a chance at him, it is a race against the clock.  The magic date is June 15th.