Ben Badler of Baseball America reported some interesting news today related to the Twins: apparently, they voided a contract they had to sign one of their international prospects — 16-year-old Dominican shortstop Jelfry Marte. Marte had been ranked the 13th best international prospect in 2017 by Baseball America, and third best by MLB.com, but apparently the Twins that he had crappy vision during his physical.
What caught my eye about this news was Marte’s $3 million signing bonus. The bonus, along with the contract, was voided and goes back into the Twins’ international signing bonus pool. If you’ve read anything about Shohei Ohtani lately, you know why this is important. Basically, international signing bonus money is the only way teams can financially entice Ohtani to sign with them, and the Twins had the third most left in their pool ($3,245,000). The only teams with more money to offer are the Rangers ($3,535,000) and Yankees ($3.25 million), and every other team has substantially less.
So dos this mean the Twins now have $6,245,000 to offer Ohtani!? Sorry, but no.
According to JJ Cooper of Baseball America, the Twins have the reported $3,245,000 left because the Marte contract was voided. It makes sense based on simple math: The Twins’ started with a bonus pool of $5.25 million and got $500,000 more from the Nationals in the Brandon Kintzler trade. $5.25 million plus $500,000 doesn’t equal $6,245,000.
The Twins originally signed Marte on July 2nd, so the contract was probably voided at some point awhile ago and we just never heard about it. Voiding the contract means Marte becomes a free agent again, but it doesn’t sound like he’s signed anywhere new yet. The timing is a shame, since teams are now clinging to their international signing money in hopes of winning the Ohtani sweepstakes.
Marte could also still sign a new contract with the Twins, likely for a smaller bonus.