ST. LOUIS -- Major League Baseball's international signing period has been ongoing for three weeks now, and in addition to the three signees the Cardinals have already announced, another two players from the Dominican Republic have agreed to terms.
Those two deals will become official once MLB finishes its background check and both players -- Magneuris Sierra and pitcher Estarlin Arias -- pass their respective physicals.
That process has already been completed for the other three players the Cardinals have signed out of Latin America -- Joshua Lopez (Venezuela), Edmundo Sosa (Panama) and Luis Bandes (Venezuela).
According to sources, the highest bonus went to Lopez, who signed for $475,000. Sosa received $425,000, while Bandes ($350,000) and Sierra ($105,000) also each collected six-figure sums. The smallest bonus went to Arias ($30,000), whose situation is particularly unique.
Arias, who turned 18 in May, actually agreed to a contract with the Nationals in January, but that deal was voided after Arias tested positive for metabolites of Boldenone. MLB announced in April that upon signing with another team, Arias would be suspended 50 games for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Arias began serving the suspension on July 18.
According to Moises Rodriguez, director of international operations for the Cardinals, all five players are at the organization's academy in the Dominican Republic. There, they can participate in local leagues, since they are not eligible to join one of the Cardinals' Minor League affiliates until next summer.
July 2 marked the first day that teams could sign international players who are at least 16 years old. The signing period is ongoing, and the Cardinals continue to evaluate other potential signees. In accordance with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Cardinals can spend up to $2.9 million on international players without incurring a penalty this year.
"We're always active due to the nature of the international free-agent market," Rodriguez said, "so more acquisitions are possible."