When news broke Tuesday that the Angels had signed former Braves prospect Kevin Maitan, I was a bit bummed. The Twins still had $3.25 million of international signing money left to spend, and since they couldn’t spend it on Shohei Ohtani, Maitan would have been a nice alternative prize. Maitan, 17, is a shortstop and was considered the best international prospect in the 2016 signing class. Some are comparing him to a young Miguel Sano.
I became even more dismayed later that day when I came across this tweet:
The Twins didn’t even try to sign Maitan? What the hell?
Well, apparently that’s not true. The Star Tribune’s LEN3 is reporting that the Twins were actually in the hunt for Maitan. In fact, the Twins offered Maitan significantly more than the $2.2 signing bonus the Angels ended up giving him! What’s the deal with these international prospects not caring about money anymore?
A Twins official told LEN3 he things Maitan spurned them in favor of the Angels because the Angels have fewer shortstops blocking his path in their system. That Twins official... has a point. The Twins already have Royce “Number One Overall Pick in the 2017 MLB Draft” Lewis, Nick Gordon, Wander Javier, and Jermaine Palacios. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for Maitan.
At the end of the day, Maitan’s snub way have been at least a partial blessing is disguise for the Twins. Instead of blowing $3 million on signing another shortstop prospect, the Twins traded $1 million of international cap space to the Mariners for catcher David Banuelos, and another $1 million of international cap space to the Angels for centerfielder Jacob Pearson. “Cap space” are the key works here — the Twins didn’t actually trade money, just the ability for the Mariners and Angels to spend more of their own money in their pursuit of Shohei Ohtani (or other international free agents, I guess). So the Twins basically just got two prospects at greater positions of need for free.
Of course, since Maitan is one of the prospects MLB forced the Braves to give up as punishment for being naughty, the Twins could have used international signing bonus money from next year’s pool to sign him. That would have still allowed the Twins to make the two aforementioned trades in addition to signing Maitan, which might have been neat. At the end of the day, though, I’m happy the Twins at least did something with the remaining cap space they had.
Speaking of which, the Twins still actually have $1.25 million international signing bonus money left in the pool that they could use...