July 2 doesn’t get as much attention as July 31’s non-waiver trade deadline, but it’s still a pretty significant date in the baseball world. Today marks the first day of the international signing period. If you take a look at the signings today and over the next couple of weeks and months, you’ll notice that the great majority of these players are 16 years old and come from Latin America.
The Rangers have already grabbed the headlines this morning, signing Dominican outfielder Nomar Mazara to a bonus worth more than $5 million, according to Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com. The previous record for a signing bonus during the international signing period was the $4.25 million the Athletics gave to Dominican right-hander Michael Ynoa in 2008.
Rojas writes that the 16-year-old Mazara “is a 6-foot-5 outfielder who hits for power from the left side of the plate.” Ben Badler of Baseball America ranked the top 40 expected signing bonuses yesterday and Mazara checked in at 10th on the list. Dominican outfielder Elier Hernandez, who was ranked first on the list, has signed with the Royals for $3.05 million.
Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.
Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.
The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.
Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.
Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.
There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.
Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.
The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.