The Blue Jays have agreed to sign Dominican outfielder Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the No. 1 international prospect for July 2. His bonus is $3.9 million.
The Blue Jays also made a trade today for additional slot money. According to Keith Law of ESPN on Twitter, the Blue Jays are sending Chase Dejong and Tim Locastro to the Dodgers in the deal. In the trade, the Blue Jays acquired the slot values to bring them up to $3,486,150 in pool space, the maximum pool space they were allowed to acquire (teams are allowed to trade for up to an additional 50 percent of their originally allocated pool).
In doing so, the Blue Jays will face future signing restrictions for exceeding their pool, but they avoided the maximum penalty. They are in the 10-15 percent bracket over their pool, which results in a 100 percent tax on the pool overage and the inability to sign a pool-eligible player for more than $300,000 in only the next signing period, not the next two signing periods.
Here is Guerrero’s complete scouting report, while Baseball America subscribers can read an even more in-depth look what scouts have seen from Guerrero.
1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., of, Dominican Republic
Born: March 16, 1999. Height: 6-1. Weight: 210. B-T: R-R.
Vladimir Guerrero was one of the most exciting and talented players baseball has ever seen. He was a true five-tool player, with a lifetime .318/.379/.553 line, 449 career home runs, a 40-stolen base season as a 27-year-old in 2002 and an 80 arm. His bat control was among the best who ever played the game, with a preternatural ability to square up pitches in and out of the strike zone. While Guerrero played his final major league game in 2011, now baseball is about to welcome Vladimir Guerrero Jr. His cousin, Gabby Guerrero, is an outfielder with the Diamondbacks in Double-A, while another cousin, shortstop Gregory Guerrero, is another top July 2 prospect this year.
Vladdy Jr. doesn't have his father's all-around tools, but few players in baseball history did. Guerrero is an offensive-oriented prospect who several scouts said has the top combination of hitting ability and power in this year's class. Guerrero has terrific bat speed, unleashing a quick, compact swing with hitting mannerisms reminiscent of his father. He has excellent hand-eye coordination and bat control, which allows him to make frequent contact. Guerrero has good plate coverage, with the ability to square up premium velocity and breaking balls. Some scouts thought Guerrero could get out of control at times, but most thought his hitting approach was advanced for a 16-year-old. Guerrero's strength, bat speed and weight transfer produce flashes of plus raw power, striking the ball with as much consistent hard contact as any player in the class.
The drawback with Guerrero is that he doesn't bring much else to the table beyond what he does in the batter's box. He's a below-average runner at best with the thick, heavy body type that suggests he's going to slow down further. He has a 40-45 arm, so unless that improves for him to play right field, his best-case scenario defensively is to play left field. Guerrero has grown an inch in the past year and has worked hard to drop some weight, but keeping his conditioning in check will always have to be a focal point for him, since some scouts worry he might be a future first baseman or DH. Most of his focus to this point has been on his offense, so he needs to devote more time to his fielding, but that's the case with many young Dominican outfielders.
Scouts are divided on whether they would put Guerrero over Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers when they were at the same stage, with Devers generally getting the edge for his pure hitting ability and Guerrero grading out higher for his power. Like Devers, there is concern about Guerrero's defensive value, but if he turns into a plus hitter with plus or better power and hits in the middle of a lineup, it won't matter where he plays. Guerrero has played in both the Dominican Prospect League and the International Prospect League, though he spends most of his time training with his uncle Wilton Guerrero, a former big leaguer. Guerrero's bonus should rank among the top in the class, though it might not be the highest. The Blue Jays are enamored with Guerrero and are expected to land him.