Baseball America’s Ben Badler has an awfully interesting article up on how teams are already (and how they still might) look to exploit grey areas in the CBA in order to sign international prospects.
Starting on July 2, teams will be limited to spending $2.9 million in bonuses to international free agents through the next year. That’ll make things difficult on many teams, some of whom have exceeded that amount just to sign one player in past years.
So, teams will likely look for every advantage they can, whether it’s exploiting a loophole or maybe making some under-the-table payments. Badler has a number of examples of how things could work, and it’s well worth reading.
The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.
Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.
While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.