The Royals have again taken advantage of the Braves’ international signing scandal to bolster their own farm system.
The organization agreed to a contract, pending a physical exam, with Cuban outfielder Juan Carlos Negret late Wednesday. The Braves signed Negret, a right-handed hitter who is 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, for $1 million during the previous signing period.
Negret, 18, slashed .264/.410/.391 with 14 doubles and 10 RBIs in 50 games in the Dominican Summer League this season. He also stole 23 bases.
“The makeup is great,” Royals assistant general manager Rene Francisco said. “He’s a really good player. He’s not 6-2 or 6-3 but he is still strong and agile.”
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This is the second such transaction the Royals have made with former Braves prospects. They signed right-handed pitcher Yefri Del Rosario for $650,000 on Tuesday.
Like Del Rosario, Negret fielded offers from several organizations. Negret chose the Royals because of their reputation developing Latino players.
“That’s how we sell our organization,” Francisco said. “Everybody works hard, everyone scouts the same way. But when you have a culture that is created by your GM and goes all the way down to the Dominican and Venezuela … that’s what sold (Negret) and the person that represents him.”
Negret and Del Rosario were two of 13 players granted free agency after MLB discovered the Braves violated international signing rules during John Coppolella’s tenure as general manager. Among other sanctions, Coppolella was banned from baseball and the league levied restrictions on how much the Braves could spend in the international free-agent market through the next three signing periods.
The players, however, were allowed to retain their original contract bonuses. They can receive a second signing bonus from another team if they agree to terms by Jan. 15. Eight of the players remain on the market.
The Royals have not been able to reach deep into their international coffers since they exceeded their international signing bonus pool in 2015. MLB prohibited the Royals from signing international amateur players for more than $300,000 during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 signing periods as penalty.
But the Royals have spent beyond that limit this week because the league allowed clubs that signed any of the former Braves farmhands to count the amount of the deal over $200,000 toward 2018-19 bonus pools.