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Normally held on July 2, the international free agent signing window was delayed by over six months from the opening of 2020’s window to January 15, 2021. The Blue Jays were active as usual, signing several free agents to contracts, headlined by infielder Manuel Beltre out of the Dominican Republic.
Baseball America had a solid round up of the signings and their preview included a scouting report that highlights Beltre’s social media savvy (with over 66,000 followers on Instagram) as well as his work ethic. BA also notes that Beltre has a “short, simple swing, performing well in games with a high contact rate, good feel for the strike zone and gap power.” Training with Jaime Ramos, Beltre signed a deal for either $2.4 million or $2.35 million (Baseball America reported $2.4 million and MLB.com reported $2.35 million).
The Blue Jays’ second biggest bonus went to Martin Gimenez, a shortstop out of Venezuela (although Shi Davidi reported that the deal is still pending a physical. Ben Badler of Baseball America has stopped reporting on signing bonus figures for Venezuelan players because, given the political issues in that country, making these figures public could endanger the players or their families.
BA’s scouting report of Gimenez notes that he trains alongside Wilman Diaz (signed by the Dodgers), one of the top shortstops in the class with trainer Alexi Quiroz. Gimenez is tall (6-foot-3) and has a lanky build with “plenty of room to pack on weight,” encouraging scouts for his ability to hit for future power. The video I’ve seen shows a big leg kick in his swing and scouts write that he has a good swing and approach although others seem to believe that he has work to do to recognize breaking balls. Defensively, he has a strong arm and could end up at third base or the outfield.The Blue Jays also signed shortstop Luis Garcia out of Venezuela, outfielder Yhoangel Aponte from Venezuela, catcher Jonathan Peguero out of the Dominican Republic, outfielder Yeuni Munoz from the DR who got a $315,000 bonus, as well as two players out of Cuba, Livan Chaviano, a right-handed pitcher and Adrian Sotolongo, an infielder.
Both Chaviano, 19, and Sotolongo, 22, defected from Cuba in 2016 with Francys Romero noting that Sotolongo had many difficulties including the loss of his mother since leaving his home country. Romero reported that Chaviano was Cuba’s starter at the U-15 World Championship final game against Japan in 2016.
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