Albert Pujols in the body of Hanley Ramirez.
Those words greeted me today courtesy of the Pittsbugh Post Gazette’s Dejan Kovacevic who, in an article today, discusses the Pirates love affair with an elite unsigned Dominican player named Miguel Angel Sano.
Kovacevic even goes so far as to say that the Pirates have an “inside track” at signing the hard hitting right handed swinger whose arm strength is listed as “superb”. The Pirates have been “courting his family” extensively and on top of that Sano has a long standing relationship with Rene Gayo, the Pirates' Latin American scouting director.
So this is in the bag right?
The article seems to think it just may be – 70-30 yes in fact. I’m not so sure.
Sano, for all his connections to the Pirates, is carrying roughly a $4 million signing bonus price tag. That would be the largest signing bonus ever paid to a Dominican player. By contrast, the largest sum that the Pirates have ever paid in signing bonus to a player from the region was $400,000 for Venezuelan center fielder Exicardo Cayones.
And we are to believe that they are going to shell out $4 million for this guy?
We have every right to be skeptical here. As proven throughout the Divisional Era, small market teams can compete, but they must be built from within – stocking the farm system and letting players mature through that system. As the Rays showed, it then takes the signing then of a couple of glue guys and voila, you have a winner.
This seems to be where the Pirates were headed. But blowing up the payroll to sign this guy? Are we really going to do that? Can we really land him?
If this guy is really Prince Albert in a can of Hanley Ramirez, and all it will take is $4 million to sign him, wouldn’t the Yanks or the Sox or the Mets or the Dodgers reach under their seat cushions and find some loose change?
Plus despite DNA tests, and the word of other teams, can we really be certain that Sano is 17? Will flood of recent revelations regarding Latin American born players age, Sano could be 26 for all we know!
Perhaps I am just talking myself out of it.
Look, if the Pirates make this move, actually sign this player, and he turns into even 40% of what they are predicting, he will be among the game’s and his generation’s elites. It would signal a new era of Pirates baseball and a re-commitment from management to the fans to put together a winner.
All that for $4 million. Maybe it isn’t too much to ask.
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Written by David Fulco