Update: 5:45pm

Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer has just published a piece on Luis Robert with this quote from Cincinnati Reds General Manager Dick Williams:

We’ve had discussions with the agent and are getting the sense that it’s moving beyond something that we are able to do

Hopefully this is just public speak to not tip their hand, but it doesn’t sound good at this point.

Original Article

Luis Robert is officially eligible to sign with Major League teams tomorrow. Ben Badler had an update yesterday at Baseball America that says the Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals are the two favorites based on conversations with those in the industry to sign the highly touted Cuban prospect.

Here is the part that truly rubs me the wrong way:

They also don’t have a pick in next month’s draft until No. 94 overall. They surrendered their first-round pick to sign Dexter Fowler in free agency, then forfeited the No. 56 and 75 picks to the Astros as a penalty for their repeated illegal breach of Astros databases. So not only are the Cardinals waiting until the third round to make their top pick, they also have the smallest draft bonus pool at $2,176,000. That’s nearly half the 29th-highest bonus pool and far less than the $11-$15 million each that teams picking in the top five (including the Reds, Padres and A’s) have in their pools.

One of the reasons that the Cardinals are one of the favorites is because they’ve got so much extra money to spend. Why do they have that money? Because they hacked the Houston Astros. Because someone in their organization broke the law, repeatedly, and is now serving time in federal prison for it. That erased essentially all of the money they would have spent in the draft – so instead they are just taking that money and spending it on the international market. And while the international market for 16-year-olds is far more risky than that of the draft, if they wind up using the savings to put them over the top for a guy like Luis Robert to go along with the other four players they spent $8M on internationally, what the heck kind of punishment are they actually facing? None other than a little bit of bad PR, which their fans literally don’t care about, so it’s not even bad PR because it’s not changing their bottom line in the slightest.

Now, as Ben Badler notes to end the article, the team that writes the biggest check seems to be the one that will wind up signing Luis Robert. For the last 10 years that’s seemed to be the case for the Cuban players – whoever is willing to pay the most gets the player. That could be any number of teams at this point. Still, if it winds up being the St. Louis Cardinals, it’s going to be a real slap in the face given how they wound up with all of that money to spend.

For previous articles on Luis Robert, click here.

47 Responses

  1. The Duke

    Here’s a Marlins blog from Dec 2009 speculating on who signs Chapman since the Marlins had an offer in. Reds aren’t even mentioned. – http://marlins.blog.palmbeachpost.com/2009/12/22/could-florida-marlins-land-cuban-pitching-phenom-aroldis-chapman/

    Here’s a USA Today article about the weird agent battle he had back then also from Dec 2009 (we signed him Jan 11 2010). No mention of the Reds – http://marlins.blog.palmbeachpost.com/2009/12/22/could-florida-marlins-land-cuban-pitching-phenom-aroldis-chapman/

    Here’s an SI.com article from Dec 2009 detailing about Chapman (along with a rumor that his fastball was 92 mph at a private workout) that doesn’t mention the Reds – https://www.si.com/more-sports/2009/12/01/chapman

    Another article written 12 days before he signed with the Reds talking about how the A’s are making a push – https://www.baseballmusings.com/?p=45393

    In the end? He went to the highest bidder, regardless of what the rumor mill was saying. I think it will be the same for Robert. We’ll either be the highest bidder, or we won’t.

  2. Andy

    That is irritating, Doug. Still, Cards fans don’t get to consider all the American prospects that you’ve been writing about and exciting us about. We get to think about them AND Luis Robert… outbidding the Cards and then getting to pick 4 players before them would be a fist-pump moment.

    I’m no scout, so I’ll have to ask you… where would Luis Robert fall if he were in the draft? Would he be in consideration for #1? Or are these players we’re checking out… Greene, McKay, etc… a step above?

    • Doug Gray

      They wouldn’t get to consider the ones I’ve been writing about anyways because they wouldn’t have been drafting nearly this high. And yes, Luis Robert would be in consideration for #1. Baseball America has said he’d be a Top 25 caliber prospect right now. Not sure you’re going to see any draft pick ranked that high before they start playing.

  3. Jonathan

    I would agree. I think they should have gotten the “Death Penalty” to steal a term from NCAA sports. Something like what happened to SMU. This should have been a bigger deal. Whats their punishment if they are just able to sign the top 4 International players? lol

  4. Arnold Ziffle

    A little birdie told me yesterday before this came out that it was the WhiteSox at a $24M offer, STL had a $23M offer out, The Reds and Pads at $21M.
    I was hoping this wasn’t quite right, but maybe the Reds are doing a little rope-a-doping here and will come out with a knockout offer.
    Dick Williams and Bob Castellini are going to have to throw some more Benjamins on the table.

  5. Champ Summers

    MLB sure screwed the pooch on this one. The fact that its the WLB’s makes it more frustrating.

  6. Chris

    They may just surprise. Remember they have Bruce and Phillips off the books. They’ve saved money plus a new TV contract. Bottom line a 25 million offer sheet would mean 50 million to the reds and I really don’t think that’s realistic for our favorite team. Here’s to hoping I guess.

  7. Chris

    They did give Chapman 30.25 million though. So let’s swing for the fences.

    • Doug Gray

      Luis Robert is going to cost more. He’s going to require more money up front in the signing bonus/penalty paid, then you’ve got to also pay him $530,000 each of his first three years in the Majors and then pay him whatever his production requires in arbitration for the final three years. So, if he’s any good, probably at least another $20M.

      • Colt Holt

        Didn’t Chapman get the remaining contract as a bonus with option to opt into arbitration once he became eligible though? I could be confusing things…it has been a while…

      • Colt Holt

        Per Sportrac, Chapman made approximately $55 Million through last year (his last arb eligible).

      • Doug Gray

        Baseball-Reference had it at $50M. But, either way, it’s probably going to be less than Luis Robert costs, especially if he turns out to be a quality big leaguer.

  8. Steve

    Pass. Not worth the total 50 million dollars.

  9. Kap

    At this point, I would rather him go the white sox than the cardinals

  10. Brad

    I have posted this a few times now, but Im not sure Robert is worth 25M + 25M in penalty for the Reds. I wish the Redlegs would have been move aggressive with the 19-22 year old Cubans and continued to build depth in the organization. My vision is a 10-12 year rebuild, not another 3 year window.

    Really wish Reds had signed 3B Yanio Perez (Rangers-$1.14M), LHSP Cionel Perez (Astros-$2M), RHSP Norge Ruiz (A’s-$2M) CF/RF Lazaro Armenteros (A’s-$3M),CF/RF Jorge Ona (Padres-$7M), CF Jonathan Machado (Cardinals-$2.35M), RHSP Johan Oviedo (Cardinals-$1.9M), RHSP Ronald Bolanos (Padres-$2.25M), etc. And all would have combined for less than $25M ($21.64M). Even with a 10% overage to win each big, that takes total to $23.804M. 1 3B, 2 CF, 1 RF, 1 LHSP, 3 RHSP all spread between 16-22 years old.

  11. Simon Cowell

    We will get him that is my hope until it is not.
    If St. Louis signs him it will be a travesty of justice. We will have to wait for Karma to destroy the Cardinals franchise. In case Karma is to busy anyone up to a late night breakin at Busch Stadium to plant a hexed dead goat under the pitchers mound?

    • Andy

      I think karma is catching up to them. Don’t forget Oscar Tavares, and then Alex Reyes’ injury this spring.

      • Doug Gray

        I don’t think someone dying is karma at all. Really dislike this post.

      • Jonathan

        Yeah…that’s not cool man. Not cool to to go after someone who is dead.

      • Andy

        Fair enough, I apologize. Tavares’ death was a tragedy. I shouldn’t have used “karma.” I don’t believe in it and I don’t think his death was in any way related to the the issues that make us love to hate the Cards. In my mind, Simon’s post was wishing for some bad luck to fall on the Cardinals, and I was trying to point out that their organization has already had some extreme misfortune involving their top prospects recently. Again, I’m sorry.

  12. The Rage

    The White Sox are in the lead and I think they will outbid the Cardinals on whatever they offer. The Reds have frankly, been out of this for days.

    • Rick in Va

      That is interesting information. I haven’t seen any news items suggesting that. Do you have an inside source?

    • Cbus

      Nothing I love more than random statements with no factual evidence!

    • Wes

      White Sox are team that needs him the least- their farm is loaded. And when have they ever came off like they are trying to compete or have ever signed a guy like this?

      • Doug Gray

        It doesn’t matter that they haven’t done it before. They’ve been players on this one since he was announced as defecting.

  13. Wes

    I agree w Doug on cardinals. If they win the bidding all the other teams in league should move to block the deal.

  14. Jim t

    What seperate’s this site from others is the quality of the post and the content that Doug provides.. Lets please try to remember that when posting replies.

  15. Wes

    I think the cardinals, especially the fan base, don’t realize the dire need their team is in and how bad they need Roberts. Also they usually don’t make big signings like this.

    The white Sox are loaded in farm and don’t have the need other teams do for top end farm talent.

    The Reds however have termindous pressure on them to win and to sign Roberts. I don’t think the fan base acknowledges the repercussions of the signing but all the same I still firmly believe he’s going to be a red. They have the history of getting deals like this done in various ways and new management is chomping at the bit to make a splash.

    He will be a red.

    Watchout for As though. They can come through for 30 million at end when everyone thinks it’s a done deal

  16. Herzog

    Hey, we weren’t the favorite to get Chapman. Maybe a miracle will happen again.

    • The Duke

      Don’t need a miracle, just need to be higher than the other bids

  17. Papaslam

    The worst case scenario is becoming a reality, I’m afraid of. Robert to the Cardinals…….McKay drafted by the Reds. If that happens, then the front office should be fired. All of them.

    • Doug Gray

      The front office only has control over one of those things.

  18. Brad

    I have read a few comments on this board about firing Dick Williams or the front office feeling pressure.

    Dick Williams has the best job security of any professional General Manager except Mike Brown and Jerry Jones. His family owns part of the team. He has a great relationship with the Castellini family.

    This allows him to operate in a long-term view at all times. He is not, and probably never will, be working to keep his job. OR will never have to win or else… This is a good thing for the Reds.

    • The Duke

      Fan is short for fanatic for a reason. DW isn’t going anywhere any time soon regardless of landing Robert or not.

  19. Arnold Ziffle

    TwoCollege pitchers had a rough night last night, 1 had a pretty good night and 2 go tonight.
    Faedo: 5.1 IP, 13H, 7 R, 7 ER, 1 BB, 5 K in a 12-4 loss to UK.
    Lange: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 11K in a3-1 win over Miss. St.
    McKay: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 6 K in a 12-9 loss to FL St.

    Wright goes tonight for Vandy vs. Alabama. On TV.
    Bukauskas goes tonight vs. Duke.

    Please don’t draft McKay. He is starting to tail off.

  20. Datdudejs

    Talked to my guy again today. He said, “I’m still hearing we are right in it with those two* and I was told price is getting high, the sox are being very aggressive but we are trying to reallocate funds to figure something out.”

    *cards and Sox

    Again, my guy is NOT part of the decision making group. He does work for the Reds though and hears rumors.

    • Doug Gray

      And then 15 minutes later Dick Williams tells the media they probably can’t make it happen because the price is too high.

      • Datdudejs

        Yea I seen that :( guess my guy is wrong

  21. The Rage

    On the +side of no Robert, I suspect the Reds will go full bore into the draft. Take Greene, who will not be cheap to sign and then a signability guy that drops. Plenty of cash to throw around.

    • The Duke

      We are spending between 98% and 104.9% of our draft pool regardless of what happened with Robert.

  22. R Lamanna

    Should be Greene,Robert,Wright,Lewis,Adell,McKay in my humble opinion. Don’t think the difference in talent between Robert and Greene is worth the money.Nice to have them both though!!!
    McKay doesn’t even sound like he wants to be a pitcher,wants to play everyday.Last thing we need is another undisciplined hitter who is stubborn.

    • Doug Gray

      I’d take Luis Robert over any player in the draft. Then I’d go with Wright. To me, they are clearly the best two guys right now.

  23. greg

    So the Reds have to sit out on all higher end international prospects for the next two years and all they have to show for it is Vlad Gutierrez. Just so incredibly frustrating to see opportunity after opportunity slip through their fingers.

    • Doug Gray

      I understand being upset about likely not landing Luis Robert, but we need to understand that whoever signs him is committing, likely, $75M to him if he’s even a slightly above-average big leaguer, and closer to $100M if he’s an all-star caliber guy. While it would certainly be nice to land that kind of guy, this is real commitment needed here.

      And I wouldn’t sell short Rodriguez or Ruiz from the 2016 class of international guys.

      • greg

        Yes, that is real commitment, but let’s think about the opportunity cost involved in not getting him, or anything out of the international market for the next 2 years. That is a lot of real value that they punted in order to make an impact this signing period, and I just don’t think they accomplished anything close to what they could have.

  24. Kap

    Just saw that the reds are unlikely to sign robert. Let’s all move on now