At Beyond the Box Score, Patrick Clark takes an interesting look at the 31 largest Latin American Signing Bonuses of All Time. The recent explosion in money handed out to latin amateurs is quite striking. The list is absolutely a work in progress, so all rankings are still fluid. However, all five of the largest bonuses were inked in the last two signing periods and 24 of the top 31 were signed in the last four signing periods.
The $1.4 million the Mets gave Fernando Martinez in 2005 is now the 21st largest of all time and the largest bonus handed in the 2002-05 signing periods. At the time it was signed, it was the sixth largest signing bonus for a latin amateur. The $1.25 million the Mets gave LHP Juan Urbina this year is the 25th largest of all time, but just the 7th largest in 2009.
One astute commenter, Jeff Zimmerman, pointed out that in the pre-2002 period, MLB teams were a collective 1-6. The Marlins hit big with Miguel Cabrera, while Joel Guzman and Wily Mo Pena both own negative lifetime WAR, and there were three other players who didn’t even make it to the big leagues.
It’s a nice reminder how fluid the market for baseball players can be and just how much more teams are currently investing in amateur ballplayers.