A's Appear Ready to Dip into Dominican Republic for Big-Money International Signing

John Hickey

Are the A’s ready to make another big step in international free agent signings?

It would appear so. Baseball America’s Ben Badler, who knows as much about the international signings situation as anyone, tweets that Dominican Republic center fielder Pedro Pineda is poised to sign with the A’s.

Baseball’s signing period for international players who are not subject to the June draft is currently scheduled to open on July 2. But in this age for the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the league has set up things to push the start of the signings period until Jan. 15, 2021 if it is felt to be warranted.

Badler reported Monday that the A’s are likely to make the biggest splash in the international market with a contract that will pay the 16-year-old Pineda more than $4 million. The report says that is the most the any team is expected to spend on any player in the draft this time around.

Pineda bats and throws right and reportedly has both good power and good speed.

Badler describes what Pineda brings to the table thusly: “He’s a strong, athletic, physical center fielder with a loud tool set and a power/speed threat. He’s a center fielder with excellent speed, a fast bat and the power potential to hit 25 home runs.”

The A’s best-known dabble in the international market in recent years was the 2012 signing of Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. A veteran of the Cuban team at the time, Cespedes signed for four years and $36 million, and his arrival coincided with the A’s surge into relevance in the American League West.

In his two full seasons with Oakland, Cespedes helped the club win back-to-back AL West titles. They would finish second in 2014, when Oakland traded him to Boston for starting pitcher Jon Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes.

The A’s made a big move in the international market last year, too. Shortstop Robert Pauson, the No. 2-ranked international prospect for 2019, signed for a reported $5.1 million. He’s only 17, but already he’s ranked fourth in the A’s system by mlb.com’s list of minor league talent. It should be noted that the top 3, lefty starter Jesus Luzardo, catcher Sean Murphy and lefty starter A.J. Puk, all made their big-league debuts last year and all are expected to start the season on the Oakland roster.