The international signing period began Friday, 29 days before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, and the Athletics were the first to make an imprint by signing Venezuelan third baseman Renato Nunez to a $2.2 million contract, according to Baseball America.
Nunez, 16, was deemed the top hitter available out of Venezuela this year by several international scouts, Baseball America wrote. The international signing period is for players born outside of the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico and are thus ineligible for the First-Year Player Draft. Players must be 16 years old when they sign and turn 17 by either Sept. 1 or the end of their first pro season, whichever comes later.
Here’s more from around the league …
* With Chase Utley
out about eight weeks
after surgery on his right thumb, the Phillies suddenly need help at second base. And though assistant general manager Scott Proefrock
told MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, “I don’t think it’s necessarily a situation where we have to go get somebody,” names like Ty Wigginton
, Miguel Tejada
and Kelly Johnson have been mentioned
. The Orioles recently promoted third baseman Josh Bell
, which could make Wigginton and Tejada available. But O’s president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail
told MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli that’s not necessarily the case
* Because he’s a free agent after this season, he’ll come rather affordable at a pro-rated share of $8 million, the Mariners are currently not in contention and, well, he has a track record for making an impact on a new team after the Trade Deadline (see: 2009 Phillies), Cliff Lee will likely be the most sought-after player this month. But a source with knowledge of Seattle’s thinking told The New York Daily News the Mariners have not yet made Lee available. A host of teams — most notably the Mets and Dodgers — will undoubtedly be interested when he is.
* Lee is Plan A for many teams seeking starting pitching, and Roy Oswalt
may be Plan B. But Oswalt — making $15 million this season, $16 million next season and with a full no-trade clause in his contract — will be more difficult to acquire. MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart wrote recently
that the Astros would be willing to pay a portion of Oswalt’s remaining salary if they get premier prospects in return.
* The Pirates and Blue Jays, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, are bidding on Mexican pitching prospect Luis Heredia. A source told the Post-Gazette the Blue Jays offered the 15-year-old right-hander $2.8 million, while the Pirates offered $2.5 million. Heredia can’t sign until Aug. 16, when he turns 16.
— Alden Gonzalez